New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that he’d signed legislation allowing voters who are concerned about the risk of contracting or spreading an illness, such as coronavirus, to request an absentee ballot for the November general election.
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The state will also count absentee ballots that do not have a postmark as long as they are received by the Board of Elections the day after the election, November 4. Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than November 10 will be counted as well.
Voters can submit their absentee ballot applications to the state’s Board of Elections starting “immediately,” Cuomo said.
“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the US Postal Service and with Covid-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Cuomo said in the press release. “These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November.”
The change comes as voting by mail and early voting have become increasingly popular options among voters who wish to avoid showing up to the polls in person on Election Day amid a global pandemic.
A recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS found that a majority of voters prefer to cast their ballots before Election Day, far more than have ever done so in previous presidential elections. Thirty-four percent of registered voters said they prefer to vote by mail in the presidential election, 22% said they want to vote early at a polling place, and just 43% said they would prefer to vote in-person on Election Day, according to the poll.
The change makes New York the latest state to take action to expand access to the ballot box for November. Thirty-five states – now including New York – will allow all voters to request a mail ballot, according to CNN’s tally. Nine states, in addition to Washington, DC, will be conducting a primarily vote-by-mail election in November.