New York cannot count your absentee ballot until the election passes. 

It’s one of the reasons that we are still waiting for results in some primary elections that took place over a month ago.

What You Need To Know

  • Typically, mail-in ballots represent 5% of New York’s vote

  • Vastly more people voted by mail in the primary

  • Unlike New York, other states count absentee ballots prior to the election

  • New York needs an infusion of investment to ensure November’s count is as fast and accurate as possible

According to Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center, the problem is the way the system is set up in New York.

“Here, you are presumptively going to vote in person, and the exception is that you will vote by mail,” according to Morales-Doyle. “Even if you requested an absentee ballot, the poll book has your name in it as if you’re going to show up and vote that day.”

In other states, the presumption is that if you request an absentee ballot, you are voting by absentee ballot.  

“If you show up on election day to vote, the poll worker (in other states) would say, ‘You have to fill out a provisional ballot because you requested an absentee ballot, and so we’re not going count your vote today unless it turns out you never sent in your absentee ballot.'”

Another issue is when the counting takes place. Most states where mail-in voting is common, count absentee ballots before election day, says Morales-Doyle. 

“As long as they don’t make those results public they can continue that process,” he explains.

The process of challenging ballots in New York, post-election, also slows things down.  

“There’s this whole challenge process that’s happening after the election as well, so the counting can go really slowly because absentee ballots are being challenged in the weeks following the election.”  

Challenges in other states where mail-in voting is more common take place prior to election day.

Finally, according to most good government groups, including the Brennan Center, there needs to be investment in New York’s system, because it’s not used to handling the massive influx of absentee ballots. 

“You need to have resources to ensure ballots are counted and counted quickly. Hopefully, there will be more money from the federal government to help with elections,” Morales-Doyle said.

The House Democrats’ HEROES Act includes $3.6 billion for states to handle new election expenses.