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Audio Feature: Everything to know about voting November 3

Sep 05, 2020 12:04 am

Here is a roundup of how to vote November 3, including information on how to register, how to vote, and how unlikely voter fraud has been at the polls. Click here to download or play an audio version of this report.

October 9 is the deadline to register to vote in New York in the November election. That is the last day to postmark an application for the general election, which must be received by the local board of elections by Oct. 14. October 9 is also the last day an application can be received by board of elections in person to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 election. Anyone honorably discharged from the military, or who has become a naturalized citizen since October 10, may register in person at the board of elections up until October 24. Changes of address must be received by the board of elections by Oct. 14. In Columbia County, early voting begins Oct. 24 at the Columbia County office building at 401 State St. in Hudson. In Greene County, early voting begins Oct. 24 at the Greene County Office Building, 4th floor, Suite 430 at 411 Main St, in Catskill. Both early voting sites have unique hours, so call or check the board of election websites (Greene, Columbia) before heading to the polls.

Nick Reisman is reporting for State of Politics the New York Board of Elections August 31, announced a statewide effort to recruit poll workers for the November general election as a result of a shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The push comes one day before National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, a day set aside to address the shortage ahead of early voting and the November 3 vote. Poll workers tend to be older people, a demographic considered more vulnerable to the virus. More than half of poll workers in New York are over the age of 60. This year poll workers are being tasked with facilitating social distancing, sanitizing equipment as well as assisting voters. Poll workers must be at least 17 years old and registered to vote on election day. Information on becoming a poll worker in Columbia County is available by calling 518-828-3115; in Greene County, by calling 518-719-3550. Read the full story at nystateofpolitics [dot] com.

Nick Reisman is reporting for State of Politics Democratic lawmakers August 31, called for the placement of ballot drop boxes for voters to leave absentee ballots for the November general election. Legislation proposed by state Senators Brad Hoylman, Rachel May and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried would allow for the placement of drop boxes statewide. Similar arrangements have already been implemented in 33 states. In the coming weeks New York voters are expected to cast a surge of absentee ballots thanks to legislation that simplified the criteria for requesting an absentee ballot by allowing concern over contracting COVID-19 as a reason for obtaining one. “We owe it to all New Yorkers to make sure that their vote gets counted this November," May said. "... One way we can promote safe, fast, and efficient voting, without worrying about postal issues, is to allow folks to drop their ballots off in secure drop boxes around their communities." Hoylman said, “New York won’t allow Donald Trump’s relentless attempts to undermine our elections and [to] spread misinformation to succeed." Read the full story at nystateofpolitics [dot] com.

Dan Clark reports for New York Now that New York voters can now request an absentee ballot for the November elections online through a special portal, absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov. Absentee ballots are only issued for a reason, but this year voters can claim the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for voting by mail. "In line with the sweeping reforms we have implemented to make it easier for New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote.... we launch the online portal through which every registered voter concerned about COVID-19 can obtain an absentee ballot,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Election day is Nov. 3. There are no drop boxes locally for leaving votes. Absentee ballots must be received by the Board of Elections by 9 p.m. Nov. 3 in one of the following ways:
• Through the mail, the ballot must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3.
• Ballots can also be hand-delivered to the County Board of Elections office no later than 9 p.m. Nov. 3.
• Absentee ballots can also be hand-delivered to an early voting poll site between October 24 and Nov. 1.
• And absentee ballots can also be hand-delivered to an in-person poll site by 9 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Grace Panetta reports for Business Insider the five common mistakes that may get your absentee ballot thrown out, rather than counted. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found that 23.7 percent of voters, around 33 million, cast ballots by mail in the 2016 presidential election, and more than 318,000 of those votes were rejected, about one percent. This year there are fears of slow mail service, and and the coronavirus pandemic is sure to have more people voting by mail. So the five common mistakes to avoid are:
• Improperly filling out your ballot. Follow the directions carefully. "You don't want to use red ink, marker, or anything that could be problematic. If your instructions say to use black or blue ink, use black or blue ink. If it says fill in the oval, fill in the oval. I think it's really critical for voters to follow the instructions more than anything," said Amber McReynolds, the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and a former director of the Denver Elections Division in Colorado.
• Forgetting to sign your envelope. This is the most common mistake voters make.
• Using a different signature from what your state has on file. Use a consistent signature style. Voters can update signatures on file with the board of elections office by submitting a new paper voter-registration form.
• Not including required additional documentation. New York does not usually require extra documentation.
• Sending your ballot back too late. In New York, ballots must be postmarked by 9 p.m. Nov. 3 to be counted.
In-person voting takes place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 3, and early voting takes place Oct. 24 to Nov. 1.

Amanda Fries reports for the Times Union that instances of voter fraud are extremely rare in New York, and when they do occur, it is usually elected officials or candidates running for office and not the average voter committing the fraud. The conservative Heritage Foundation, for instance, list just 15 cases in New York since 2010. Most of those cases were false registrations of voters by candidates. There were just three cases of "fraudulent use of absentee ballots." Of the 14 convictions since 2010, "nine involved elected or public officials, candidates for office or political operatives; three were local developers accused of attempting to rig an election, and two were New Yorkers who voted twice." Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of voting rights and elections at the Brennan Center for Justice, said, “What we’ve seen for years now is that there are some that use the specter of rampant voter fraud to justify all kinds of restrictive practices that do nothing to prevent voter fraud, but do everything to stop people from voting.... It’s a distraction, it’s not helpful and it ends up being used to justify policies that disenfranchise voters and don’t make elections any safer.” The disenfranchisement of voters in New York is a much larger problem. “In New York state, we see a lot more disenfranchisement than fraud. More than 14 percent of absentee ballots get thrown out,” said Jennifer Wilson, deputy director of the New York State League of Women Voters. “We have one of the highest rates of throwing out absentee ballots of any state in the nation.” Officials recommend voters casting ballots by mail do so carefully, reading all instructions completely, so their ballots are not among those election officials throw out instead of count. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

Brendan J. Lyons reports in the Times Union that it is legal to vote cast both an absentee ballot and one in person in New York. President Donald Trump suggested this week in North Carolina that voters cast both a mail-in ballot, and one in person. That would be illegal in North Carolina, and most states, but not in New York. "Once you're issued an absentee ballot, you can choose to vote in person and we will discard the absentee ballot," said Albany County Board of Elections Commissioner Rachel Bledi. Election officials compare absentee ballots to poll results here; and if a person voted twice, the absentee ballot is ignored and the in-person vote is counted. Earlier this year Albany County District Attorney David Soares urged voters there to vote in-person if they'd already voted by mail for his opponent. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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