Under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, this has clearly been one of the most unique political seasons leading up to a presidential election, but a series of events set for the next few weeks promise to re-energize campaigns ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden selected U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his vice presidential running mate. They will be the featured attractions at the Democratic National Convention, which will be staged remotely with live video streams and television broadcasts starting on Monday and continuing through Aug. 20.

Delegates to the Republican National Convention, set to meet in a scaled-down event opening Aug. 24 in Charlotte, N.C., and continuing through Aug. 27, will vote to nominate President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a second four-year term in office.

These campaign events arrive at a time when most voters are immersed in confusion and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to tell how much attention the national political conventions will attract among voters who are struggling with decisions about their health, going back to school and the future of their jobs and incomes.

Fortunately, some new flexibilities have been added to the election process this year. Voters will have more time to register to vote, and they can choose to cast their ballots by mail.

Registration and mail-in ballot application deadlines both occur in October, but voter registration must be completed first because you must be a registered voter to apply for a mail-in ballot.

So for those who are not currently registered to vote, the deadline is Oct. 19. Voting registration can be completed in person at your county election office, by mail, at PennDOT driver’s license centers or some other government agencies and online by visiting — votespa.com — an official Pennsylvania government website.

Once registered, any voter can apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election. Applications must be received — postmarks are not enough — by 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at the election office in your county of residence. Voters can obtain an application form online at the votespa.com website or by presenting a valid driver’s license or photo ID to the state Department of Transportation. After completion, the application form is then mailed to the county’s election office.

Mail-in and absentee ballots are options. Registered voters who wish to cast their ballots in person are welcome to do so at their election polls — where COVID-19 social distancing and health protocols will be in place — from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

There will be a number of choices to make on this year’s election ballot. In addition to the presidential race, candidates for every federal and state House of Representatives seat and a number of state and U.S Senate seats will be on the ballot.

It’s been a difficult and confusing year, but the decisions made during the Nov. 3 election will guide policy in the months ahead. We encourage all eligible citizens to register and exercise your right to vote.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Todays’ was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.

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