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NY gets 221,000 online applications for absentee ballots — in one week

New Yorkers may now apply online for absentee

New Yorkers may now apply online for absentee ballots that can be cast in the November elections. Credit: NYS Board of Elections

ALBANY — New York’s new online system for obtaining absentee ballots received more than 220,000 requests in its first week — about half of all absentee ballots sought during the entire 2016 presidential campaign, according to the state Board of Elections.

For the first time, the state has provided a way for registered voters to apply online for absentee ballots that they then can mail in or drop off at early voting sites, local boards of election or at polling places on Election Day.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo changed state election law to allow online applications for voters concerned about the spread of the coronavirus at polling places. The online system started last Wednesday. 

Absentee ballots were allowed for such voters in the June primaries in New York. More than 1.6 million voters requested mail-in ballots for the primaries — more than 10 times the number of mail-in ballots cast in the 2016 presidential primary. 

In its first week, 221,603 applications for absentee ballots were requested through the state’s new online portal, election officials said.

In the 2016 presidential election, 495,520 applications were requested, said John Conklin, spokesman for the state Board of Elections.

“It’s certainly making it easier for voters to apply for absentee ballots,” Conklin said in an interview.

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New York City and Erie County have their own online portals.

The state Board of Elections website has a page at https://absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov/ where voters can apply for absentee ballots. Ballots will be mailed to voters beginning Sept. 18.

The last day for an application to be postmarked is Oct. 27, seven days before Election Day. 

The state elections board warns that the U.S. Postal Service has said it can’t guarantee on-time delivery of applications applied for less than 15 days before Election Day.

The last day a ballot can be postmarked is Nov. 3, Election Day. The law allows seven days for ballots to be delivered to boards of election by mail. In New York, a voter who casts an absentee ballot can overrule his or her ballot by voting at a polling place on Election Day.

Applications for absentee ballots also are available on state and county boards of election sites for downloading and mailing.

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