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Statewide early voting begins Saturday; here's how to vote

People line up to vote early at the

People line up to vote early at the American Legion Post 1273 in Wantagh on Oct. 31, 2020. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

ALBANY — Early voting, which will include weekend and evening hours, begins Saturday and extends through Oct. 31 at select polling sites in counties statewide.

Voters will be able to cast ballots on local races and on five statewide ballot proposals.

Here is how to participate in the increasingly popular method of casting ballots for the Nov. 2 election:

  • In Suffolk County, early voting begins Saturday and Sunday with polls open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Evening hours begin Tuesday. Suffolk County will have 12 early voting sites. The locations and hours are available on the county's website.
  • In Nassau County, early voting begins Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Evening hours begin Monday. Nassau County will have 17 early voting sites.
  • A registered voter may vote at any early voting site within his or her county.
  • Voters who choose to vote early may not vote on Election Day. Election workers have electronic poll books that track who has voted statewide.
  • The process to vote during early voting is the same as on Election Day. A voter must check in, be provided a ballot, then will be directed to a polling machine to cast the ballot. Instructions will be provided on how to use the machines and poll workers will be able to assist voters.

Early voting was popular last year as a way to avoid crowded polls on Election Day that could increase the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But many early voting sites also had long lines at peak times of noon and in the evening and when polls opened on weekends. Election officials urge voters to cast ballots at midmorning or midafternoon to avoid the most-crowded periods.

Monday was the last day for a county board of elections to receive an application for an absentee ballot by mail, online portal, email or fax. However, voters may apply in person for an absentee ballot at their county board of elections through Nov. 1, the day before Election Day.

Nov. 2 is the last day a returned absentee ballot may be postmarked and it must be received by the county board of elections no later than Nov. 9.

Voters also may drop off absentee ballots at early voting sites, their county boards of elections or at a polling site on Election Day by 9 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Several measures will be used to protect against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Voters must wear masks and adhere to social distancing at polling places, according to the state Board of Elections.

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