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Albany County To Provide Pre-Paid Postage For Absentee Ballots

Andrew Joyce Voting

All Albany County voters who request an absentee ballot will be provided with pre-paid postage on the return envelope. It’s an effort to increase voter access this fall.

Albany County legislators and county Board of Election officials announced the move Thursday. With COVID cases once again rising, they say it will provide a safer, more reliable way to vote in November.

Democratic Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce says it will remove obstacles for at-risk voters, and expand access for low-income voters or older voters on a fixed income.

“It’s going to keep individuals from just tossing that return envelope, who might not have voted by absentee before. May not have thought voting by absentee was an option for them,” Joyce said. “It saves them a trip to the post office and it’s going to save them money.”

Democratic County Legislator Wanda Willingham of the 3rd district says she has been part of three civil rights lawsuits involving improving voter access.

A founding member of the Legislative Black Caucus, Willingham said that laws making it harder to vote cause minority voters to feel as if their voices are not being heard and depress participation at the polls.

“They have an opportunity to put someone in office who not only looks like them, but understands their community that they live in,” Willingham said.

In 2015, a federal judge ruled that the Albany County Legislature’s 2011 district map violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting minority voting power.

Voters can apply for an absentee ballot by mail, at the state Board of Elections website, or at the Board of Elections office at 260 South Pearl Street in Albany.