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Voters to be mailed applications for absentee ballots for June primaries

ALBANY – All voters will be mailed applications for absentee ballots to vote in the June primary elections in order to help avoid any threat of contracting the COVID-19 virus at polling places, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.

Cuomo said he will issue an executive order that will send the applications for absentee ballots to all voters. A voter must check the box on the existing application for “temporary illness or physical disability,” but will not be required to appear before election officials to obtain an absentee ballot. Voters would have to mail the application to their local board of election, which will then send absentee ballots to them.

Traditionally, absentee ballots can only be used if a voter is sick, away for work, or otherwise unable to show up at the polls.

“Polls would be open,” Cuomo said Friday. “You have both options.”

The temporary order applies only through the June 23 election. That is the date of New York’s presidential primary and all federal, state and local special elections and primaries.

A week ago, Cuomo’s executive order temporarily suspended a portion of state election law to allow all voters to apply for absentee ballots by contacting their local board of elections.

A ballot must be delivered to the local board of elections no later than the close of polls on Election Day or postmarked no later than the day before the election. The mailed ballot must be received by the local election board no later than seven days after Election Day.

Cuomo’s aides had first said they were planning to mail out absentee ballots – eliminating the application that requires a reason for using a mail-in ballot – but that came under fire as an overreach by Cuomo using his emergency powers to change laws.

“Automatically mailing ballots without proper security measures in place most certainly invites fraud,” said state Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy before Cuomo changed his plan.