September 22, 2020
Be sure it’s heard in the 2020 Election!
by Pamela Berns
The November election may be the most important election in our nation’s history and for our planet’s future, and Covid-19 does not need to be a deterrent.
This year registered voters in New York State have three options:
- Absentee mail-in ballot
- In-person early voting
- In-person voting on Election Day
While the state is offering a plethora of ways to help meet the needs of many voters, for some, the choices can make the process seem overwhelming or difficult to follow. We’ve tried to simplify it here, so you can vote easily and safely and help others join you in getting the vote out.
People living in other states in the US can find voting details for their states at https://www.usa.gov/election-office
There are three steps to voting in New York State:
- Register to vote
- Apply for your ballot
Registering to vote and applying for a ballot are two separate steps. You must be registered first in order to apply for a ballot.
1. Register to Vote
To vote in the November election you must be registered to vote. If you’re not a registered voter, act now! If you’re not sure if you’re registered, you can check on your registration status here.
- Mail registration applications must be postmarked by October 9 and received by your board of elections office no later than October 14, 2020. You can download a PDF in English or Spanish or request your form online.
- Register in person at your county Board of Elections or any state agency participating in the National Voter Registration Act by October 9.
- Register online at the Department of Motor Vehicles if you have a DMV-issued identification.
Residents who were honorably discharged from the US Military or became a naturalized US Citizen after October 9, 2020 may register in person at the Board of Elections until October 24.
2. Apply for Your Ballot
There are many options for requesting your ballot, but the quickest and simplest is by going to the Absentee Ballot Application Portal.
You can find other options for ordering for your ballot here.
October 27 is the last day to apply online, by email, fax or to postmark an application or letter of application by mail for an absentee ballot. However, the Post Office has advised they cannot guarantee timely delivery of ballots applied for less than 15 days before an election. You can apply in person up to November 2.
Remember, you must be registered in order to apply. In addition, you must apply separately to vote in the general election—your application for the June primary was for that election only and will not result in your receiving a ballot for the November election.
You may return the completed ballot in any of the following ways:
The state requires that your ballot be postmarked no later than November 3. However, the Post Office recommends sending it at least seven days before Election Day.
- At your early voting poll site between October 24th and November 1
- At your County Board of Elections Office between now and November 3
- At your Election Day polling place on November 3 between 6am and 9pm
For details on absentee voting and early voting, as well as county office and poll locations and hours, click here.
Important Information for NYC Voters!
Double check the name and address on your ballot envelope. If you received a ballot with incorrect information, you will automatically receive a replacement. You can also contact the New York City Board of Elections at [email protected] or 1-866-VOTE-NYC.
Also, note that all absentee ballots say “Official Absentee Military Ballot” in the top corner. This is the correct ballot, even if you are not serving in the military.
“May our shared voices reach the heavens and shake the trees!”
Writer and teacher Sheila Lewis’s words couldn’t ring truer—or louder— at this pivotal moment. The more votes we have the louder our voices are.
If you know someone who needs help registering or applying, take the time to walk them through it. And while actual voting should be private, and you shouldn’t direct anyone on who or what to vote for, you can help them understand how to fill in their ballot to make sure it gets counted.
Become a poll worker.
New York is in great need of poll workers to work on both early voting and Election Day. “Because of COVID-19, New York is experiencing a critical shortage of poll workers,” says the Board of Elections. “Historically, 55 percent of all New York’s poll workers are over the age of 60, making them especially vulnerable to the pandemic. This has resulted in a significant need for poll workers who are willing and able to assist with the administration of in-person voting.”
This is not a volunteer position. Poll workers get paid for training and each day they work.
Share this information with your friends, family and community.
Talk it up on Zoom calls, in social media, at your house of worship, your book club, your art class—in short anywhere you have a shot at influencing others to vote.
Join a get out the vote organization.
Here are a few possibilities:
Exercise Your Right to Vote!
As the saying goes, if you don’t vote, don’t complain. You don’t need to work out with a trainer to exercise your right to vote, but you do need to make the same level of commitment. As Robert Kennedy said, “Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy.”