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Early Voting Starts Saturday In New York

The New York State capitol in Albany
Dave Lucas
The New York State capitol in Albany

Early voting begins in New York on Saturday and continues until November 1, two days before Election Day. Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt has some of the details on how it will all work.

The number of polling places vary from county to county, but each county is required to have at least one early voting polling site. In larger counties with multiple sites, one has to be in the largest urban area.

Susan Lerner, with the government reform group Common Cause, has been closely monitoring the early voting procedures.

“There are polling locations open in every single county, they are often different than your election day polling place because there are fewer of them,” said Lerner, who says in all counties outside of New York City, voters can vote an any of the early polling sites, not just the one nearest to their home.

“The hours that they are open differ, from county to county,” said Lerner, who advises looking on line to find out the specific details of each polling site. 

There are a few places to find out more details on where and when to vote.

Lerner says voters can go to a website created by pro voting groups, called EarlyNY.org.

The New York State Board of Elections also has the specific locations and their hours on its website,  as does the League of Women Voters.

The League’s Jennifer Wilson says her site also gives other helpful information to aide voters who are making their plans to cast their ballot early, including whether the polling site is ADA accessible, and whether there is parking nearby

“We have all kinds of information on our website for voters,” Wilson said.

Absentee voting, or voting by mail is also an option.

Due to health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State laws were changed earlier this year to allow anyone who is registered to vote to request an absentee ballot.  There’s still a few days left to get one.

The Board of Elections says the cutoff date for requests by mail, email or telephone is October 27th. The Board warns though, that, the United States Postal Service says, due to recent cutbacks, that they cannot guarantee timely delivery of ballots that are requested 15 or fewer days before the election.

Lerner, with Common Cause, says New Yorkers who have not yet requested a ballot, or not mailed it in-need to hurry, though.

“The key is not to wait until the last moment,” said Lerner, who said voters should put their absentee ballots in the mail as soon as possible.

“Right now,” Lerner said. “I wouldn’t wait any longer.”

She says for procrastinators, it might be better to just vote early in person starting Saturday, or to drop off their absentee ballot at any early voting polling site.

The absentee ballots can also be hand delivered  to the regular poll sites in person on November 3rd. but if they are sent through the postal service , the  ballots must be postmarked by November 3rd, or they won’t count.

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