This century has been the first one where most New Yorkers have had the right to vote. In the century before, people sacrificed their freedom and in some cases their lives to secure that right. But never before in modern American history has the right to vote been so imperiled. Between uncertainty around the post office, fear of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic and worries over ballot mishaps, the basic arithmetic of a democracy has become inexplicably complicated.
So here’s a breakdown for you, our readers, on the simple steps you can take to cast your ballot this year.
There’s still time to register to vote in New York –– but not much. The deadline is this Friday, Oct. 9.
Registering is easy and can be done quickly online. According to the state, the average time it takes to register online through the DMV is 5 minutes. For more information on who can register and how, check out this website.
If you’re unsure about whether you’re registered or want to make sure your information is up to date, you can check your status here.
Next, decide how you want to vote.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has complicated everything, including voting. The June primaries were a trial run for the Nov. 3 elections. There was increased access to absentee ballots and extra precautions, like social distancing, taken at the polls.
Now, it’s time for take two. Between early voting, absentee ballots and going to the polls on Election Day, you have lots of different options to choose from, each with important dates to keep in mind as you decide.
Vote absentee and never step foot in a poll site (sort of)
Anyone concerned about COVID-19 can vote absentee.
To vote absentee, simply submit an application. Your application can be completed online, over the phone, through fax, in person or by mail.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27 but that doesn’t mean you should wait. Request your ballot as soon as possible. The USPS warned the state that they cannot guarantee that ballots requested less 15 days before the election will be delivered on time. Plus, the absentee ballot process was marred with errors during the June primaries and there have already been issues with them for this election. Getting your application in sooner rather than later gives you time to troubleshoot should anything go wrong. No harm, no foul.
Once your ballot arrives, fill it out and decide how you want to return it.
You have four options: Mail it back, drop it off in person at your early voting site, drop it off in person at your county board of elections, or drop it off in person on Election Day at your polling location.
Want to track the status of your absentee ballot? Check out New York City’s newly launched absentee ballot tracking website.
Did you request an absentee ballot but change your mind and decide you want to vote in person? No worries. Toss your absentee ballot and go to your polling place to cast your vote.
Like casting your ballot in person but don’t want to worry about crowds on Election Day? Vote early.
Early voting starts on Saturday Oct. 24 and goes until Sunday Nov. 1. Early voting is much like voting on Election Day except you have more time to do it. But before you head out to cast your ballot, make sure you look up where you need to go. There are fewer early voting locations so you’re most likely not going to be voting in your usual spot.
Here’s a list of early voting locations, their addresses, hours, and phone numbers.
To look up your early voting site and to see a sample ballot, use New York City’s poll site locator.
Keep it old school and vote in person on Election Day.
Just look up your polling site and sample ballot on New York City’s poll site locator and go vote!
(But really, go vote)
Oh, and practice safe voting and wear a mask. Please and thank you!