Elected officials and community leaders have spent much of 2020 urging citizens to act responsibly and ensure the safety of themselves and others. With a presidential election just over eight weeks away, the safest way to vote is by mail.

Not only is it safe, but it is secure and accurate — no matter what you have heard.

It’s a topic that keeps coming up. But the data shows that absentee ballots are part of a long-standing and secure procedure to accommodate voting for all eligible citizens.

The 2016 presidential election saw about 25% of voters, or 33 million people, cast an absentee ballot. Oregon, Colorado and Washington hold their elections entirely via mailed ballots, and counties in many other states do the same.

Oregon, for example, has mailed out more than 100 million ballots in the past 20 years and had just about a dozen cases of proven fraud.

Iowa has already proven it can work here.

In the June primary, fewer than 1,800 of the nearly 70,000 registered voters in Dubuque County went to the polls. Nearly

10 times that number found another way to exercise their right to vote.

More than 17,000 voters submitted absentee ballots via mail or did curbside voting in advance of Election Day in an attempt to avoid contact with others during the pandemic.

A push toward absentee voting came from both the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office as well as county elections officials. The effort was effective: More absentee ballots were cast in the local primary than in any general election.

Iowa’s effort followed April elections in Wisconsin during which many voters stood in long lines waiting to vote, risking their own health and potentially that of poll workers. Dozens of cases of COVID-19 were traced back to Wisconsin’s Election Day.

Statewide, Iowa recorded a record turnout for a primary election, even with far fewer voters going to the polls. More than 410,000 Iowans voted absentee this year, compared to just 38,000 in the 2016 primary election.

Voting by mail alleviates concerns caused by COVID-19,

reducing exposure to voters and poll workers alike. Elected officials of all stripes should want every citizen to be able to cast their ballot without obstacle. With all the options available, there should be ample opportunity for voters to be heard, whether or not they can go to the polls on Election Day.

President Donald Trump has planted seeds of doubt about the safety of voting by mail. But the evidence doesn’t back up his concerns.

And it’s worth noting: Trump and his family vote by mail.

The drama came to a crescendo (hopefully) days ago when Trump said something that sounded like he was encouraging North Carolina residents to try to vote absentee and then also vote in person.

Don’t do that. That’s a felony.

All the drama isn’t helping.

We know that the pandemic won’t have magically disappeared in eight weeks. Let’s make this the most safe, secure and inclusive vote yet by urging citizens to vote by mail.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.