Unlike last year, voters will have to provide a reason if they want to vote by mail in the Nov. 2 election.
Last year under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s emergency executive order because of the COVID-19 pandemic, voters were able to request mail-in ballots without providing a reason why they couldn’t go to the polls. This year, voters concerned about contracting COVID-19 if they vote in person may ask for an absentee ballot by checking the box on the application for a permanent or temporary illness.
"A temporary illness excuse includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19," according to the state Board of Elections.
Voters may also request absentee ballots if they:
- Are away from their home county or home borough on Election Day.
- Are in the military.
- Are residents or patients of a Veterans Health Administration Hospital.
- Are detainees in jails awaiting grand jury action or sentenced to prison for a charge other than a felony.
- Are permanently ill or disabled.
Applications for an absentee ballot must be received by the county Board of Elections no later than 15 days before Election Day, Nov. 2. That means Oct. 18 is the last day for a county Board of Elections to receive an application by mail, online, email or fax.
The last day to apply for an absentee ballot in person at your county Board of Elections is Nov. 1.
The U.S. Postal Service recommends returned absentee ballots be mailed at least seven days before Election Day.
The return envelope may also be dropped off at the county Board of Elections by 9 p.m. on Nov. 2 or to a polling site on Election Day by 9 p.m. on Nov. 2; or at an early voting site during early voting Oct. 23-31.
A mailed absentee ballot must be received by the county Board of Elections by Nov. 9. Military voter ballots including those from overseas must be received by Nov. 15.
New Yorkers may apply for an absentee ballot by:
- Using the state’s absentee application portal (https://absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov/).
- Visiting the voter's county Board of Elections office
- Designating another person to deliver an application to the county board of elections and receiving a ballot in the process
- Mailing or faxing a request to the voter's county Board of Elections.
- The state also provides an online form at https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/voting/AbsenteeBallot-English.pdf and in Spanish at https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/voting/AbsenteeBallot-Spanish.pdf