Voters cast their ballots at the Mastic Beach Fire Department...

Voters cast their ballots at the Mastic Beach Fire Department on Nov. 2, 2021. Credit: James Carbone

ALBANY — Early voting begins Saturday in the primaries for Congress and the State Senate.

Primary Day for those races is Aug. 23. Early voting will be held at selected polling sites in every county from Saturday through Aug. 21.

County boards of election post the locations of early voting sites on their websites and not all traditional polling sites will be used. The county boards also will provide on their websites the days and hours of early voting, which include weekends and evenings.

The process to vote by absentee ballots began Aug. 8, when voters could begin requesting absentee ballots online or by mail. Applications can be picked up in person at county boards of election as late as Aug. 22. Ballots must be received by county boards of election by Aug. 23.

Voters may also request an absentee ballot application at the state website, absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov, which will provide a checklist to complete in order for an absentee ballot to be mailed to the voter. The form is printed in English and Spanish.

The Nassau County Board of Elections (nassaucountyny.gov/566/Board-of-Elections) and Suffolk County Board of Elections also have details on early voting (suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/BOE/Early-Voting-FAQ) and voting by absentee ballot (suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/BOE/Absentee-Voting-FAQ).

The reasons that can be selected for seeking a mail-in ballot are:

recommended readingVoters' guide for primary election on Aug. 23, 2021
  • Temporary illness or physical disability, including COVID-19, or concern over the potential of contracting COVID-19 at a polling site.
  • Permanent illness or physical disability.
  • An inability to get to the polls because the voter is a primary care provider for an ill or physically disabled person.
  • Resident or being a patient at a Veterans Health Administration hospital.
  • Incarceration in jail or prison awaiting action by a grand jury or in prison for a conviction of an offense that isn’t a felony.

Applications for absentee ballots are also available at county boards of election offices.

The state Board of Elections provides a portal on its website for voters to see if they are registered to vote; which election districts they are in; if they are enrolled in a party and eligible to vote in that party’s primary; and where the early voting sites are that will be open, along with directions to the polling place. The portal is at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov.

Some voters will find they live in different districts from past elections because of redistricting this year. That process redraws legislative and congressional lines every 10 years based on new census data.

Confusion over the new districts is part of the reason some candidates and political leaders worry that voter turnout may be even less than in most primary elections. But early voting and mail-in voting could change that, according to Erica Smitka, deputy director of the League of Women Voters of New York State.

“Early voting will always increase turnout,” Smitka said. “Any vote cast during the early voting period is a vote that may not have been cast otherwise."

“It’s especially critical that we provide more opportunities for people to engage and vote this August primary, whether it’s through early voting or absentee ballots, because this primary was unanticipated,” Smitka said. “August is typically a month when people are out of town or busy gearing up for the school year. We don’t expect we will see a huge turnout this primary, which makes it important that it’s easy for people to vote and get to the polls in a way that makes sense for them.”

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