Late last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill allowing voters in New York State to request an Absentee Ballot based on the risk or fear of contracting or spreading an illness, effectively permitting more than 12 million voters in the state to vote by mail. If you are a registered voter and are concerned about potentially being exposed to COVID-19 by going to the polls in person in November, you are now eligible to vote by Absentee Ballot instead. You DO, however, have to APPLY for an Absentee Ballot. Unlike in some other states, including New Jersey and California, Absentee Ballots will NOT be mailed automatically to all voters. If you want to mail in an Absentee Ballot for the general election, you will have to request one online, over the phone, by fax, in person, or by mail.
Applying for an Absentee Ballot
If you would like to apply for an Absentee Ballot electronically, you may do so at the New York State Board of Elections’ Absentee Ballot Application Web portal. Otherwise, you can download a copy of the application for an Absentee Ballot from the Westchester County Board of Elections’ Web site. (También está disponible en español.) Applications for accessible electronic ballots can also be downloaded or filled out online, and you can find a separate application for Military/Uniformed Services Voters and Overseas Voters there as well. When filling out the form, make sure to check the “temporary illness or physical disability” box as your reason for requesting a ballot. Your completed application must then be submitted to the Board of Elections at:
Westchester County Board of Elections
25 Quarropas St.
White Plains, NY 10601
YOUR APPLICATION FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT FOR THE NOVEMBER 3, 2020 GENERAL ELECTION MUST BE RECEIVED BY OCTOBER 27, 2020. If you’re mailing your application, this means it has to be POSTMARKED by October 27, 2020 (by law, all applications received by mail with a postmark on or before Oct. 27 must be processed). If you miss that deadline, you can still deliver your completed application IN PERSON to the Board of Elections NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 2, 2020.
Casting Your Absentee Ballot
- Once you receive the ballot, mark the ballot according to your choices for each office following the instructions on the ballot.
- Once you have completed marking your ballot, fold it up and place it in the Security Envelope. (This envelope will have a place for your signature.)
- Sign and date the outside of the Security Envelope.
- Seal the Security Envelope.
- Place the Security Envelope in the Return Envelope. (This envelope will have the return address of your county Board of Elections on the outside and should have a logo that reads “Official Election Mail.”)
- Seal the Return Envelope.
- Return your Ballot to the Westchester County Board of Elections.
There are, of course, a number of ways you can return your ballot:
- If you’re planning on mailing your ballot, keep in mind that IT MUST BE POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 3, 2020 AND RECEIVED BY THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS BY NOVEMBER 10, 2020.
- You can also deliver it to either the County Board of Elections or your polling site as late as 9 PM ON NOVEMBER 3RD (ELECTION DAY).
- You can drop it off at an Early Voting site between Saturday, October 24th and Sunday, November 1st.
A word about the United States Postal Service: Given what could be an unprecedented number of Absentee Ballots being submitted by mail for the upcoming presidential election, combined with the system-wide problems with service delays they have been experiencing all summer, the Post Office has advised that they cannot guarantee timely delivery of Absentee Ballots applied for less than 15 days before the election. They are also recommending that voters allow for at least seven days for Absentee Ballots to be delivered to the Board of Elections ahead of the election. The best thing you can do to make sure your vote is received and counted is to SUBMIT IT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. If you feel like your Absentee Ballot won’t arrive in a timely fashion through the mail, you can still go to the polls and vote in person. Election Law recognizes that plans change. The Board of Elections is required to check the poll book before canvassing any Absentee Ballot. If you go to a poll site on Election Day, your Absentee Ballot will be set aside and not counted.
If you are STILL concerned about your vote going through the mail, why not consider Early Voting right here at the Yonkers Public Library? Registered voters will be able to cast their ballot at ANY of the 17 designated early voting locations in Westchester County, including both the Will and Riverfront libraries, regardless of where your regular polling location is. Check out the schedule below or visit the Westchester County Board of Elections’ Web site for the full list of locations.