Editor’s Note: Growing up in Chicago, the election day mantra, told only half in jest, was to vote early and vote often. That said…
Early voting for all relevant primaries in New York begins Saturday.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has permitted mail-in voting via absentee ballots. Those interested must request them through the Internet, email, phone, mail, or in-person by June 16 from their county’s board of elections. On the application form, voters can request their absentee ballot due to “temporary illness or physical disability” to indicate that they are doing so to help prevent the virus’ spread.
Voters who fill out these applications should get a paper ballot shortly after, which they must mark and return with postage paid.
Though New York’s primary elections are set for June 23, a 2019 state law calls for easier poll access for voters by creating a flexible nine-day period spanning the second Saturday before an election to the Sunday before it.
During this period, every county in the state must have at least one polling site for every 50,000 registered voters. Larger counties may have as many as seven such sites. All must announce these voting locations and the times they are open by May 1 annually for general elections and 45 days before a primary or special election.
On weekdays, polls must be open for at least eight hours between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and for at least five on weekends from 9am to 6pm. Exact times are up to the discretion of county election officials.
Concerns that early votes will not matter as much as those cast on Election Day are unfounded. State law mandates security on all ballots and scanners used during the early period remain secure and uncounted until then, ensuring that early ballots are no different from others.
If you are hoping to vote early, you can access your polling place on the New York State Board of Elections’ website.