In New York state, voters have three ways to cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 general election: in person, absentee or by early voting. And as New York state reacts to the fallout of at least one instance of missing or unaccounted ballots following the June 23 primary election – including the 12th Congressional District race between Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney and challenger Suraj Patel, in which election officials were not able to declare a winner until Aug. 4 — actions have been taken in an effort to boost New Yorkers’ right to vote.
Details about polling places for early voting and Election Day can be accessed by clicking here. Polls are open on Nov. 3 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Not registered to vote? Click here to register to vote in the general election by Oct. 9. Individuals wishing to request absentee ballots should contact their County Board of Elections.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week issued an executive order requiring county boards of elections to take specific action ahead of the election. “You already hear the statements questioning the vote, and the accuracy of the vote, and mail-in ballots,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing the executive order.
Executive Order 202.58, which includes directives for county boards of election, is part of Cuomo’s Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency, originally released in response to the coronavirus on March 7.
The executive order directs county boards of elections to:
- send a mailing outlining all deadlines for voters by Sept. 8;
- send staffing plans and needs to the New York State Board of Elections by Sept. 20 so Board of Elections can assist in ensuring adequate coverage;
- adopt a uniform clarified envelope for absentee ballots and require counties to use it; and
- count votes faster and require all objections to be made by the county board in real time, making sure that boards are ready to count votes and reconcile affidavit and absentee ballots 48 hours after elections.
Cuomo also signed into law election reforms that he says will make it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted. The three-part package signed by Cuomo on Aug. 20 includes measures allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to the Board of Elections immediately (S.8783A/A.10807) and expands the necessary protections to allow a voter to get an absentee ballot if they are at risk or fear of illness including COVID-19 (S.8015-D/A.10833).
The measure also ensures that absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day or received by the Board of Elections without a postmark on the day after the election will be counted, and ballots with postmarks demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by Nov. 10 (S.8799A/A.10808-A).
In addition to allowing absentee voting for those at risk or fear of illness such as COVID-19, the Board of Elections lists the following reasons for which individuals can request absentee ballots:
- absent from home county or, if a resident of New York City absent from the five boroughs, on Election Day;
- unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability;
- unable to appear because of being the primary care giver of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled;
- a resident or patient of a Veterans Health Administration Hospital; or
- detained in jail awaiting grand jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony.
Finally, in January, 2019, Cuomo signed legislation allowing early voting in New York state, which runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 this year. Polls are required to be open a minimum of eight hours on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and a minimum of five hours a day on weekends between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to voteearly.org.