New York is launching a public awareness campaign for expanded voter options amid an expected high turnout in the coming weeks and the likelihood more votes will be cast through absentee ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has signaled plans for executive orders meant to require local elections officials to have plans in place for dropping off absentee ballots at boards of elections, early voting locations, or at Election Day voting locations. The move is meant to reduce the potential for long lines for in-person voting on November 3.
Much of what Cuomo's orders already touch on existing law: Absentee ballots can be dropped off before Election Day at local elections offices.
But the expected flood of absentee votes — New York has virtually eliminated the required excuses for obtaining an absentee ballot amid the pandemic — will likely be an increase of absentee ballots by the millions.
Plans by local elections officials must be submitted to the state Board of Elections by September 21 and publicly made available in the county Board of Elections office and on their website.
"Because of COVID, this year New Yorkers have several options when it comes to casting their ballot. You can vote early, vote absentee, or vote in person on election day, and I am issuing an executive order to ensure boards of elections have plans in place to safely receive the anticipated additional volume of absentee ballots through in person return," Cuomo said. "To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard."
Voters can drop off absentee ballots at their county board of elections offices as soon as they receive their ballot or at early voting locations between October 24 and November 1 as well as polling locations on Election Day.
State lawmakers and Cuomo previously approved last month a package of measures meant to expand and strengthen absentee voting.
Those measures include allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to the Board of Elections immediately, expand the excuses for voting absentee to include the coronavirus pandemic and thus essentially eliminate any excuse for receiving one, and ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Eelction Day or received by elections officials without a postmark the day after Election Day will be counted.