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The pandemic will mean that many more Americans vote by mail this year.

All 50 states require people to register before they can cast a mail-in vote. But from there, the rules diverge wildly.

Some states send mail-in forms automatically, others require voters to request an absentee ballot. And while a majority of states accept the coronavirus as a reason for not going to a polling station, some — including Indiana, Tennessee and Texas — do not.

And a lot could still change. Our correspondent Luke Broadwater, a reporter in Washington, says there are more than 300 challenges to voting-related rules winding through courts across the country.

Americans should probably brace for a different kind of election night — it could be days or longer before the full picture of results emerges.


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On today’s episode

ImageWorkers at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department in Florida depositing mail-in ballots into an official drop box in Doral last month.
Credit…Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

“The Daily” is made by Theo Balcomb, Andy Mills, Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, Kelly Prime, Julia Longoria, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Hans Buetow, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Bianca Giaever, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi and Rachelle Bonja. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Mikayla Bouchard, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Nora Keller, Sofia Milan and Desiree Ibekwe.