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Vote by Mail

What’s on this page?

FAQ about Vote by Mail

Addressing process, procedure and misinformation

Excuse or No Excuse?

When you need to request a ballot and when you need to submit it

Request a Ballot by the Deadlines

Request a mail-in ballot to be sent to you and know when you need to return it

Check your Ballot Status

Check whether your ballot is on its way and whether your vote has been received


FAQ about Absentee/Mail-in Voting

Recommendations for Making Sure your Ballot is Counted

The main reasons that mail-in ballots don’t get counted are that (1) they arrive late, (2) they’re missing a signature or a signature doesn’t match or (3) they’re missing a postmark. 

Solutions:

(1) Request and send in your ballot as soon as possible. Due to a lack of funding and new administrative changes, the United States Postal Service is taking longer to send items. The Young Vote has also included a “Check my Ballot Status” link down below for every state that has the program. 

(2) Make sure that you add your signature on the space on the back of the absentee ballot return envelopes. Double check and make sure you didn’t miss any other signatures.

Don’t rush a signature. In some states, if your signature doesn’t match what’s on file, it could be thrown out.

(3) Unfortunately, you cannot control whether your mail is postmarked. It should be, but sometimes errors occur. However, be sure to know whether your ballot must be received by the deadline or postmarked by the deadline. 

Your state may have other restrictions such as no damaged envelopes or no errors due to missing hyphens or initials. A general rule of thumb for voting by mail is to take your time filling it out, double check the instructions and make sure you’re not leaving anything out. Fill out your information as you did on your Voter Registration (Check my Registration). If you have doubts about your ballot, check your local election or Secretary of State’s office

Are mail-in ballots and absentee ballot the same?

They are essentially the same. In the vast majority of states, vote-by-mail and absentee voting follow the same procedure. If your state has different procedures for vote-by-mail and absentee voting, it will be stated under your state’s information below. Otherwise, absentee voting and mail-in voting will be used synonymously. 

Absentee voting is generally for people who will not be able to go to their polling place on Election Day. This includes military serviceman, the disabled and students who are out of town on Election Day. For many states, if you want to stay home on Election Day because you are afraid of catching COVID-19, then you are eligible to file an absentee ballot. 

A mail-in ballot is simply a ballot sent through the mail. These ballots can include absentee ballots, but not all mail-in ballots are absentee ballots. You can be in your county on Election Day and still send a mail-in ballot. Since you may be “absentee” from your physical polling place, some may say that this is still absentee voting.

Do I need a stamp?

No. The policy of the United States Postal Service is to deliver all absentee and mail-in ballots with or without proper postage. If there’s no stamp or not enough postage, the USPS will charge the local elections office. However, if your ballot doesn’t have a stamp, your ballot cannot be returned to you for any reason.  

If you’re sending your ballot from overseas or using a non-Postal Service facility, you’ll need to attach proper postage (e.g. a stamp).

What’s a postmark? 

A postmark is a postal marking on a piece of mail that indicates the date and time that the item was accepted by the postal service, according to the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Since the time mail is picked up varies, the day you mail your item may not be the same day that it is postmarked.

Do I need an excuse to vote by mail?

Sometimes. Some states, like Alabama, require you to give a reason for why you cannot be at the polls in person. For many of these states, fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19 is a valid excuse.

In about 30 other states, you don’t need to provide any reason for why you’re voting by mail. These ballot types are called “no-excuse absentee ballots”. 

Is there widespread voter fraud associated with voting by mail?

No. There is no widespread voter fraud associated with voting by mail. In fact, voter fraud, in person and by mail, is incredibly rare and difficult to do in the United States. According to the Brennan Center at the New York University School of Law, more than 250 million votes have been cast by mail since 2000. Their report stated that incident rates of voter fraud are between 0.0025% and 0.0003%. That would be approximately 750 votes. In fact, most of those incidents of fraud have actually been attributed to other factors such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices.

Does voting by mail give any political party an advantage?

No. According to a 2020 Stanford study, voting by mail does not increase either party’s share of voter turnout or either party’s vote share. It only “modestly increases overall average turnout rates.”

Alabama

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes. You need an excuse to vote absentee such as a work conflict or illness.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Thursday, October 29th

Request a ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must be postmarked no later than Monday, November 2nd and received no later than noon on Election Day.

Alaska

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Thursday, October 29th

Request a ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

Arizona

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Thursday, October 23, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Apply for a ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Your ballot must be received by 7:00pm on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

Arkansas

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes. You need an excuse to vote absentee such as a work conflict or illness.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th by mail

Monday, November 2nd if you request it in person

Request a ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

If you mail in your ballot, it must received at clerks office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.

If you submit your ballot in person, it must be received by the end of the day before the election.

Check my Ballot Status

California

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Every registered voter will receive a mail-in ballot automatically.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

N/A

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day.

If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time if mailed, bring it to any polling place in the state between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

Colorado

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Everyone will receive a ballot automatically unless you have recently changed your address. (No excuse needed)

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

N/A

Deadline to submit your ballot:

7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

Connecticut

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes. You need an excuse to vote absentee such as a work conflict or illness.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Monday, November 2nd

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Election Day

You can submit your ballot by fax as well as by mail or in person.

Delaware

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes. You need an excuse to vote absentee such as a work conflict or illness.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Monday, November 2nd

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

District of Columbia

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day, and must arrive no later than the 7th day after Election Day. 

Check my ballot status

Florida

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

If you want your ballot mailed to you, you must request your ballot no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the election.

You can pick up a vote-by-mail up to and on Election Day.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 7:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Georgia

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Your request must be received by Friday, October 30th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Monday, November 2nd

Check my ballot status

Hawaii

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No. Ballots will automatically be sent to every registered voter.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Your ballot should be sent to you around 18 days before the election (Friday, October 16th).

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 7:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Idaho

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Your request must be received by Friday, October 23rd

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 8pm on Election Day

Illinois

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Thursday, October 29th if you request by mail

Monday, November 2nd if you request in person

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Indiana

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Due to potential rule changes, please check here

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 at 11:59 PM

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By noon on Election Day

Check my ballot status

Iowa

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Friday October 30th, 2020

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

9:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Kansas

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

No

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Election Day

Check my ballot status

Kentucky

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Due to potential rule changes, please check: here

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 6:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Louisiana

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Due to potential rule changes, please check: here

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Friday, October 30th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Monday, November 2nd

Check my ballot status

Maine

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Saturday, October 31st

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 8:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Maryland

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

If you want to download your ballot from the State’s website, the deadline is Friday, October 30th, 2020.

If you want to receive your ballot by mail or by fax, the deadline is Tuesday, October 27th.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

10:00 am on November 13rd, 2020 if you submit it by mail.

8:00pm on Election Day if you submit it in person

Check my ballot status

Massachusetts

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No excuse is needed in 2020. Otherwise, an approved excuse is needed.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Wednesday, October 28th

A ballot must be requested in writing and returned by mail or in person at your local election office.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

State Election ballots need to be postmarked no later than November 3rd and must be back at your local election office no later than November 6th.

Check my Ballot Status

Michigan

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Friday, October 30th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

8:00pm on Election Day if you submit it in person

Check my ballot status

Minnesota

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

You can apply for a ballot any day before Election Day

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Your returned ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county by the day before the county canvass, which may take place on the second or third day following the election.

Check my Ballot Status

Mississippi

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

No (as of August 2020). For potential updates, check: here.

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

No deadline

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

You can only turn in your ballot by mail.

It must be received by Monday, November 2nd, 2020 5:00PM CST.

Missouri

Vote by Mail and Absentee Voting have different procedures in this state.

Vote absentee if you will absent or Election Day or are in a high risk category for contracting COVID-19 (e.g. of age 65 and older or are immunocompromised). Otherwise, vote by mail. (Vote by mail if you are concerned by COVID-19 but have not contracted it.)

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee or by mail?

Yes. You need an excuse in both cases. As of August 1st, 2020, you need a notary to sign off on your vote by mail.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes. Use a mail-in ballot for this reason instead of an absentee ballot.

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Your request must be received by Wednesday October 21st, 2020 5:00PM CDT

Request an Absentee Ballot

Request a Mail-In Ballot

Free Notaries

You should receive a verification notice of your mail-in ballot registration within 7-10 days.

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Your ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day at your local elections office – NOT the Secretary of State’s Office.

Montana

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Applications must be received by the county election office by noon on Monday, November 2nd. If you drop off the application you will be able to pick up the absentee ballot at the same time.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Absentee ballots must be received at the election office or polling place by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Ballots are received primarily by mail.

Check my Ballot Status

Nebraska

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

The last day to request by mail is October 23, 2020.

Request an Absentee Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must arrive by 8:00pm on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

Nevada

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 20th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

If returned by mail, the ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and received no later than 7 days after the election will be counted.

Check my Ballot Status

New Hampshire

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Request your ballot as soon as possible. Your application must be approved by Supervisors of the Checkist and they will meet on a currently undetermined date 6 to 13 days before the general election.

Request an Absentee Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must be received by 5:00pm on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

New Jersey

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

The application must be received by the County Clerk by Tuesday, October 27 if you want to vote by mail. If you apply in person, the deadline is 8:00 pm on Election Day.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

If you return the ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by Election Day and received within 48 hours after Election Day.

If you return the ballot in person, it must be received by the time the polls close on Election Day. 

Check my Ballot Status

New Mexico

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

By 5:00pm on Tuesday, October 20th

Request an Absentee Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 7:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

New Jersey

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

The application must be received by the County Clerk by Tuesday, October 27 if you want to vote by mail. If you apply in person, the deadline is 8:00 pm on Election Day.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

If you return the ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by Election Day and received within 48 hours after Election Day.

If you return the ballot in person, it must be received by the time the polls close on Election Day. 

Check my Ballot Status

New Mexico

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

By 5:00pm on Tuesday, October 20th

Request an Absentee Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 7:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

New York

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

If you request by mail, the deadline is Tuesday, October 27th by mail

If you request your ballot in person, the deadline is Monday, November 2nd

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

The ballot must be postmarked or delivered in person by Election Day.

North Carolina

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

By 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Request an Absentee Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By 5:00pm on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

North Dakota

Absentee and mail-in balloting are different in this state.

If you will not be in the state on Election Day, (e.g. you go to college in another state), apply for an absentee ballot.

All active voters in the Central Voter File will be mailed an application to get a ballot sent back in the mail.

No polling precincts will be open on Election Day.

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

You can request a ballot anytime during the calendar year of an election but ballots will not be sent until Thursday, September 24th.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Returned absentee ballots must have an official postmark or date stamp on the envelope, email, or fax by the day before the election.

Check my Ballot Status

Ohio

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Saturday, October 31st

Request an Absentee Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must be postmarked by Monday, November 2nd or dropped off at the Board of Elections Office by 7:30 pm on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

Oklahoma

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must be received in the mail by 7:00pm on Election Day.

You can turn in person on the Thursday through Saturday before a state/general election and Thursday through Friday for all elections.

Check my Ballot Status

Oregon

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

All registered voters will receive a ballot automatically unless you have recently changed your address. (No excuse needed)

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

None. Your ballot should be sent to you two to three weeks before the election.

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.​​​​​​​​

Check my Ballot Status

Pennsylvania

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.​​​​​​​​

Check my Ballot Status

Rhode Island

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 13th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.​​​​​​​​

Check my Ballot Status

South Carolina

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

No as of August 1st, 2020. Due to potential rule changes, please check: here

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Friday, October 30th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Monday, November 2nd

Check my Ballot Status

South Dakota

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

By 5pm Monday, November 2nd

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Tennessee

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Tuesday, October 27th

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

By the close of the polls on Election Day

You can only turn in your absentee ballot by mail

Check my Ballot Status

Texas

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes. As of August 2020, you can only vote by mail if you are out of the county on Election Day, disabled, or 65 or older.

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

No as of August 1st, 2020. Due to potential updates, please check: here

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

By 5pm Monday, November 2nd

Request a Ballot

Deadline to Submit an absentee ballot:

It must be received by 5:00pm CST on Wednesday, November 4th

Utah

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No. All registered voters will receive a ballot automatically unless you have recently changed your address. (No excuse needed)

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Wednesday, October 28th

Deadline to submit your ballot:

Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Vermont

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

Requests for an early voter absentee ballot can be made at any time until 5 p.m. or by the time of closing of the town clerk’s office on the last day that the clerk has regular hours before the election.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit an absentee ballot:

Early or absentee voter ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office before the close of business on the day before the election (be sure to check your town clerk’s hours) or to the polling place by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

Virginia

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes (choose reason 2A “My disability ot illness”)

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

5:00 p.m. Friday, October 23rd

You can request your ballot application by mail, fax or email

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

It must be postmarked by 7:00pm on Election Day and arrive by noon on November 6th

Check my Ballot Status

Washington

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

All registered voters will receive a ballot automatically unless you have recently changed your address. (No excuse needed)

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

None. Your ballot should be sent to you at least 18 days before the election.

Deadline to submit an absentee ballot:

Your ballot must be postmarked no later than Election Day or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Check my Ballot Status

West Virginia

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

Yes

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

Yes (Cite “medical reason”)

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

It must be received by Wednesday, October 28th.

Absentee applications received after October 28th, even if postmarked, cannot be accepted by law.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

The ballot must be mailed and postmarked by Election Day and received by the November 9th.

Check my Ballot Status

Wisconsin

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

If you request the ballot by mail, the deadline is the Thursday, October 29th.

If you request the ballot in person, it must be by 5pm on the Friday, October 30th.

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit an absentee ballot:

8 p.m. on Election Day

Check my Ballot Status

Wyoming

Do you need an excuse to vote absentee?

No

Are concerns about COVID-19 a valid excuse?

N/A

Deadline to request an absentee ballot:

The day before Election Day

Request a Ballot

Deadline to submit your ballot:

All Absentee ballots must be received in the county clerk’s office no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Contact your County Clerk to check your Ballot Status

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