How to cast your ballot

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

With the 2020 elections coming up in four weeks, there is considerable concern about how ballots will be cast and tallied. Initiatives by Governor Andrew Cuomo will allow New York residents to choose between three options for casting a ballot: early in-person voting before election day; in-person voting the day of; and absentee voting.

The Friday, Oct. 9, is the deadline for registering to vote. State officials are directing those of voting age to the Department of Motor Vehicles Website to register to vote or change one’s party affiliation.

Once registered, New York voters will have several options for casting a ballot, not only for the presidential election, but for their Congress person, state senator, state Assembly member and state Supreme Court justices.

Here is what the each of the three methods of ballot-casting involves:

  • Early in-person voting: Votes may be cast in this manner between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 at locations determined by your local county board of elections office to avoid the hassles of voting lines on Election Day. Visit your local county website for specific voting locations.
  • In-person voting on Election Day: New York State’s website lists polling locations, which can be found by entering a county and zip code. You can also search your registration information for details on your polling location. Voting locations include schools, auditoriums, community centers, and more.
  • Absentee ballot:  October 27, 2020 is the last day to request an absentee ballot online, via email or fax. If you are sending the application request via regular mail, it must be postmarked no later than October 27. November 2, 2020 is the last day to request an absentee ballot in-person. New Yorkers may indicate that they have a temporary illness if they are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at their voting location. This is how it should be indicated on the absentee ballot. The state Board of Elections has provided direction on this.

On Sept. 8, Gov. Cuomo announced these alternative voting methods to ease voter concerns about encountering crowds on Election Day in the midst of a pandemic. In fact, the state is thinking big — as in very big polling places. New York City’s Madison Square Garden, better known for catering to concerts and sporting events with thousands of spectators, will be a polling place on Election Day 2020.  Due to pandemic-related concerns, only some states are allowing in-person voting.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures , states that do not offer pre-election day in-person voting options include: Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

President Donald Trump addressed his opposition to additional funding requested to accommodate mail-in ballots for the U.S. Postal Service in preparation for this election. He said that he was opposed to mail-in ballots, but not absentee ballots. However, both voting methods require a verification process and are functionally the same. 

If you haven’t already registered to vote, there is still time but time is almost running out. You have until Friday, Oct. 9 to register to vote. Check your registration status on the New York State Board of Elections website.