Early voting wrapped up this weekend with a total (unofficial and cumulative) of 1,119,056 voter check-ins citywide, which offers a rough estimate of how many people braved hours-long lines to cast ballots the last nine days.
Nail biters are now watching the next two days with vulture-like anticipation for Election Day, but, let’s be real, November 3 has never been the last word on elections, and likely will not be the day that determines our next president and local officials because of our state’s procedures.
After Election Day ends, as detailed by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the race is on for an official count of regular ballots first and then local officials process absentee, mail-in, and provisional ballots. Officials then “canvass” the election, or prepare results and reports for the state (up to 25 days in NYS). Then the results are verified by the state or locally.
“A ‘contested election’ does not mean a highly competitive race; instead, it means a race in which a candidate contests the outcome on legal grounds,” stated NCSL. Candidates have been gearing up with attorneys in preparation for the national elections, and there have been seven cases brought against the New York State (NYS) Board of Elections, the U.S Postal Service, and other elections-related coalitions this year alone.
A record number of early voter drop-offs, absentee, and mail-in voting almost guarantees that there will be a lot of votes counted after Election Day, especially since according to the BOE NYC website, “an absentee ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and must reach the Board of Elections no more than seven days after the election to be counted.” Officials still have to wait those seven days to count all absentee ballots, not to mention the turnaround time for any ballots that need to be cured or made valid through a verification of signatures.
If you’re still trying to vote by absentee or mail-in, drop off either of those at a ballot box site today or tomorrow, or if you’re old fashioned and just want to vote on Election Day, here’s what you need to know from the Board of Elections:
- On tomorrow, Nov. 3, polls will be open from 6 a.m. through 9 p.m. at that designated polling location. Early voting or drop-off sites may not be the same as a general election day site. Look it up here at findmypollsite.vote.nyc.
- Voters can also check out a sample ballot, if you’re just that curious and have time to kill in line, and look up information on which Assembly District, Judicial District, Congressional District, Senatorial District, City Council District, and Municipal Court District on that same site.
- As part of the Vote Safe NYC initiative, polling sites offer contactless fast pass cards that should’ve been sent in the mail for quicker check in, maintained social distancing, masks and PPE for staff, antiviral wipes available, individual stylus pens to mark ballots that voters can keep, and voting scanners and machines cleaned regularly.
- Wear a mask, or ask a poll worker for one if voting in-person or standing in line for drop-offs.
- The very last day to apply in-person at a local BOE office for a general absentee ballot is November 2, and then absentee ballots “must be postmarked or dropped off in a secure ballot box at a Board of Elections office or any early voting site, or Election Day site by November 3” at 9 p.m.
- The BOE suggests marking votes on the absentee ballot, folding the ballot and putting it in a smaller envelope, and then make sure to sign and date the oath envelope if this is the route you’re taking. Seal the envelope and put it in the larger envelope that is addressed to the Board of Elections.
- The BOE will notify voters within one day of mismatching or missing signatures for a chance to “cure.” Voters must cure their votes “by seven business days after the notice is mailed if the ballot was received by Election Day, and by five business days after notice is mailed if the ballot was received after Election Day.”
- Voters can track absentee ballots at nycabsentee.com/tracking.
- You can register and vote, even from jail, if you have been convicted of only a misdemeanor. You may not register or vote, if you have been convicted of a felony.
- Whenever a voter’s name does not appear in the poll ledger or the voter registration or enrollment list, and they don’t have identification, they will be offered an affidavit ballot, based on New York State voter’s rights. “The voter will not be denied the right to vote.”
- Poll watchers have to be “qualified, in writing by a candidate or a chairperson of a political committee or independent body and must present a certificate for each election district to the Elections Inspector for that election district.” Do not just roll up to the polls with a posse to watch the count or prevent anyone from voting since this could be interpreted as voter intimidation according to New York State law.
For a more general overview of New York State and other state election laws, and what’s changed this year, check out lawyerscommittee.org/state-election-law/ for a comprehensive breakdown.