INDIANAPOLIS — Voters in Indiana who plan to skip the polling place and vote by mail in the general election this year to avoid the coronavirus should be prepared and plan ahead.

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People who want to vote absentee by mail in Indiana will need to fill out the necessary paperwork by Oct. 22. The mail-in ballot must by received by the county election board no later than noon on Election Day. Early in-person voting will be available from Oct. 6-Nov. 2.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson have not said if they will encourage voters to vote by mail to cut decrease the chances of catching or spreading the coronavirus.

“You still have to request a ballot in Indiana,” University of Indianapolis political science professor Laura Wilson said. “You have to go through that process and ask the board of elections, ‘Hey, I’d like a ballot.’ You request it and it’s sent to you.”

After going through that process, which can be done online or in person, voters will receive an absentee ballot.

They will have to choose a reason for voting absentee. Some options include not being in town on Election day, disability, being over 65, work duties or a ride isn’t available to vote in person.

“The pandemic has shown we need to be flexible when it comes to our election systems,” Wilson said.

President Trump and others have spoken out against mail-in voting, but claims about widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting are largely unfounded. Five states, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington hold all their elections by mail.

“There’s a lot of research that shows voting fraud is very minimal,” Wilson said. “Voting by mail has actually been very secure. There’s been a lot of states that use various processes to ensure that voters’ votes count and they count correctly and for the person they voted for.”

Whether voting by mail or in person, Wilson said people with questions should contact the Indiana Secretary of State’s office or their local county election office.

“They’ll tell you what the process is, they’ll tell how they count things,” Wilson said. “If you’re not sure, you can call them, email them and contact them. Ask them your questions because that is the point of voting and point of government quite frankly.”

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