Everything You Need to Know to Vote in the General Election
There are 11 weeks to go before people begin casting their votes in the general election here in New York and with a great deal of hype, there's some confusion out there. Let's try to clear some of that up.
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order on April 24th due to the COVID-19 outbreak, requiring registered voters to receive the option to mail in their votes on an absentee ballot for the June 23rd primary, and the November 3rd, 2020 general election. In the spring, voters received an application they needed to fill out and return in order to receive an actual ballot for the primary. They would cast their votes and mail the ballot back to their local Board of Election. Voters also were allowed to sign up to vote mail-in voting for the general election, as well. A box on the original application needed to be checked in order to have the absentee option expanded through the remainder of the year.
The primary was a bit of a problem for many parts of the state. Beyond the fact that Boards of Election were overwhelmed and caught off guard, there were ballots that weren't mailed out to voters and others that were mailed too late and arrived either just before or after primary day. The big problem was the fact that because the envelopes were pre-stamped (this was done so people would not have to pay to vote) the envelopes weren't post marked by the Postal Service and in some races like in the New York City area, ballots that arrived after Election Day without a post mark were disallowed. Because of that, there are two congressional races in the state that still haven't been able to declare a winner because the issue is tied up in court.
What will be different in November to prevent that mess from reoccurring? We're not sure yet as the NYS Legislature has passed a handful of bills aimed to fix the problems before the election. Those bills are awaiting Governor Cuomo's signature. State election officials say the problems will be cleared up in time for the election.
The Voting Calendar
According to the New York State Board of Elections, New Yorkers can register to vote right up until some key dates in October.
Applications must be postmarked no later than October 9, 2020 and received by a board of elections no later than October 14, 2020 to be eligible to vote in the General Election.
IN PERSON REGISTRATION
You may register at your local board of elections or any state agency participating in the National Voter Registration Act, on any business day throughout the year but, to be eligible to vote in the General Election, your application must be received no later than October 9, 2020. If honorably discharged from the US Military or have become a naturalized US Citizen after October 9, 2020, you may register in person at the Board of Elections up until October 24, 2020.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS
Notices of change of address from registered voters received by October 14, 2020 by a county board of elections must be processed and entered in the records in time for the General Election.
Early Voting and Election Day
In New York State, early voting begins two weeks before the November 3rd, 2020 election. In-person early voting starts on October 24 and runs through November 1st. General election voting will occur from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3rd at your designated polling place.
Absentee and Mail-in Ballots
October 27th is last day to postmark an application or letter of application by mail for an absentee ballot.
November 2nd is the last day to apply IN-PERSON for an absentee ballot.
November 3rd is the last day to postmark an absentee ballot. The ballot must be received by the local board of elections no later than Nov. 10th. Military Voter Ballots must be received no later than Nov. 16th.
If you choose to hand deliver your absentee ballot IN-PERSON (by someone other than the voter) to the board of elections, it must be done by November 3rd.