Absentee Voting: Frequently Asked Questions

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Getting access to an absentee ballot in New York State has never been easier due to COVID-19. Since it is easier, many people may be voting by mail for the first time and have a lot of questions about the process.

Who can request an absentee ballot?

Anyone in New York State can request an absentee ballot this year because of an executive order passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Anyone who wants an absentee must provide a reason as to why, and this year COVID-19 is a viable excuse. If you want to request an absentee ballot due to fears over COVID-19, you can check the box labeled “Temporary illness or physical disability” on your absentee ballot application.

How to get an absentee ballot?

In order to get an absentee ballot, first, you have to make sure you’re registered to vote. The deadline to register in New York State was Friday, Oct. 9. You can check your registration status here.

If you’re registered, you must request an absentee ballot, the county will not send you a ballot unless you request one. You can request an absentee ballot by going to your local board of elections office or by going online

You can also request an absentee ballot by mail, but if you decide to go that route, you have to make sure the absentee ballot application is postmarked by Oct. 27. However, it is recommended that you send in the absentee ballot application before Oct. 21 to ensure everything gets delivered in time in case there are errors. 

What to do once you receive your ballot?

Fill it out! The sooner the better because if there are errors it will give the board of elections ample time to send it back for you to correct said errors. 

Make sure you read all of the instructions that come with your ballot and it must be signed and dated for it to count. Also, once it is filled out, make sure you put your absentee ballot in the right envelope and then put that envelope in the return envelope. If you just put your ballot in the return envelope it will not count.

What is the deadline to send in your absentee ballot?

All absentee ballots must be postmarked by election day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 3. However, the sooner you send it in the better. This way if there is a mistake, you can make sure it is corrected before the deadline. 

Where to send your absentee ballot?

Once it is filled out, you can simply put in the return envelope and send it back to your local board of elections. To take out the slim possibility of your ballot potentially getting lost in the mail, you can also drop it in one of the secure ballot boxes, which are located at every polling station. The ballot boxes won’t be available until early voting begins, which in New York State is Oct. 24.

When will your absentee ballot be counted?

All absentee ballots are tabulated after election day and after all of the early voting and in-person ballots are counted. This is to ensure that your vote doesn’t get voted twice. If you try to vote in-person and via absentee, only your in-person vote will count and your absentee ballot will be thrown out. 

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New York State is expecting a record number of absentee ballots for the 2020 election, so the sooner you send it in the better. 

If you don’t want to vote via absentee, you can always vote in-person either on election day or the week before. If you vote during the early voting period, which runs from Oct. 24 until Nov. 1, you can vote at any polling station. If you decide to vote on election day, you must vote at the polling place assigned to you. 

You can check your assigned polling place, here. 

Important Voting Dates in New York:

  • Deadline to register: Oct. 9
  • Deadline to Request Absentee Ballot: Oct. 27, but recommended before Oct. 21
  • Early Voting Period: Oct. 24 through Nov. 1
  • Deadline to send in Absentee Ballot: Must be postmarked by Nov. 3
  • Election Day: Nov. 3

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