Local officials are preparing for a historic election as they plan around public health concerns due to the pandemic, as well as potential delays with the US Postal Service. WSHU is bringing you this guide based on several interviews with election officials: the Connecticut Secretary of the State, local registrars of voters and town clerks.
We aim to help you ensure that your vote counts. Have a question you don’t see answered here? Please contact our newsroom.
There are three ways to vote on Long Island. Every local Board of Election is sending out an informational mailer explaining all three: absentee voting, early voting and in-person voting.
Can I vote absentee? Yes. You can vote by absentee ballot. In August, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that expands voting by mail ahead of Election Day.
How do I get an absentee ballot? Where? You need to apply for an absentee ballot; you won’t just be sent one in the mail unsolicited. Absentee ballot applications can be submitted to the Suffolk County Board of Elections immediately. Visit the state elections portal to apply online for an absentee ballot. Or you can download the application and send it to the Suffolk County Board of Elections by mail, phone, fax, or in-person.
How do I fill out my absentee ballot? The order allows New Yorkers to get an absentee ballot due to risk or fear of illness, including COVID-19. If you are voting by absentee ballot, please check the box that reads "temporary illness."
Mark your choices.
Fold and place in the security envelope that’s provided.
Sign and date the outside of the security envelope.
Seal the security envelope.
Place the security envelope in the return envelope that’s also provided. The return envelope is pre-printed by your local Board of Election and has a logo that says “Official Election Mail.”
Seal the return envelope.
How do I return my absentee ballot? There are multiple ways to return your absentee ballot after it has been filled out:
Mail your ballot to: Suffolk County Board of Elections, PO Box 700, Yaphank, NY 11980
Drop-off your ballot at the Board of Elections. (Exit 67 off the LIE and Exit 57 off Sunrise Highway. Your ballot will be date-stamped at the front desk, 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.)
Drop-off your ballot at any early voting location from October 24 through November 1.
When do I have to send my absentee ballot in? All absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day or received by the Board of Elections without a postmark on the day after the Election will be counted. Ballots with a postmark demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by November 10.
What if I forget to sign my absentee ballot or improperly seal my envelopes? In the past, if an absentee ballot arrived in an unsigned Security Envelope or was otherwise prepared incorrectly, the ballot would not be counted. Now, the Board of Elections has 24 hours to send a “cure” letter to any voter who does not sign or properly seal the envelopes. The cure letter will ask the voter to confirm they sent in an absentee ballot and sign an affirmation that says so, ensuring their vote gets counted.
How do I help my elderly or ill family member with their absentee ballot? You are allowed to drop-off your own ballot. You may also drop-off ballots of family, friends and neighbors, but do not place multiple ballots in one return envelope. Please make sure that all ballots dropped-off are sealed in the Board of Elections envelopes and signed by the voter on the outside of the envelope. New York does not have drop boxes. Sealed absentee ballots can also be handed to any poll worker at any early voting location or Election Day polling site.
For nursing homes that have 25 or more registered voter residents, the Suffolk County Board of Elections will coordinate with the home administrators to send a bipartisan team to the home to make sure those voters receive and return absentee ballots. This year, the Board of Elections teams will be equipped with proper PPE when they visit the homes.
EARLY AND IN-PERSON VOTING
Can I vote in-person after I voted by absentee? Yes. In New York, you may still vote in-person during early voting or on Election Day, even if you already returned your absentee ballot. The Board of Elections checks the returns from polling locations before counting absentee ballots. The in-person vote is the one that will be counted, and the absentee will be discarded. This type of voting twice is not a crime in New York, like it is in other states.
Can I vote early? Yes. New York state introduced early voting in 2019. This year, early voting starts 10 days before Election Day, between October 24 and November 1. Polling sites are open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., but changes day to day. Check your local Board of Elections website for exact times.
Babylon Town Hall Annex 281 Phelps Lane North Babylon, NY 11703
Brookhaven Town Hall 1 Independence Hill Farmingville, NY 11738
Dix Hills Fire Department 115 E Deer Park Road Dix Hills, NY 11746
Huntington Public Library (Station Branch) 1335 New York Avenue Huntington Station, NY 11746
Islip Town Hall Annex 401 Main Street Islip, NY 11751
Knights of Columbus 96 2nd Avenue Brentwood, NY 11717
Mastic Recreation Community Center 15 Herkimer Street Mastic, NY 11950
Nesconset Elementary School 29 Gibbs Pond Road Nesconset, NY 11767
Riverhead Senior Center 60 Shade Tree Lane Aquebogue, NY 11931
Southold Senior Center 750 Pacific Street Mattituck, NY 11952
Stony Brook University Southampton Campus 70 Tuckahoe Road Southampton NY 11968
Windmill Village 219 Accabonac Road East Hampton, NY 11937
What if I decide to vote at the polls on Election Day? Yes, you can still vote in-person on Election Day. There are 330 polling sites in Suffolk County. Find your polling place here. But first, make sure you are registered. New Yorkers can find out if they are registered to vote here.
When do I need to register to vote? The deadline to register to vote is October 9. New Yorkers can register online, in person at their local Board of Elections, or by mail as long as the Voter Registration application is postmarked by October 9. Many post offices and libraries often have voter registration forms on hand.
Do I need an ID to cast a ballot on Election Day? Most likely, no. If you have voted in New York before, or you registered to vote in person, or provided your ID when you first registered, you don’t have to show ID to vote on Election Day.
How do I vote if I have recently been evicted or filed a change of address? You must re-register to vote with your new address.
Will polling locations be safe, sanitary and socially distanced? You are required to wear a mask/face covering and maintain 6 feet of distance when entering any Board of Elections facility or voting poll site. The Suffolk County Board of Elections will have hand sanitizer available at all of their polling locations, however there is no state mandate.
HOW THE VOTES WILL BE COUNTED
Who counts the absentee ballot votes? How? The Suffolk County Board of Elections will use optical scanners certified by the state Board of Elections to count most absentee ballots. A bipartisan team composed of at least one Democrat and at least one Republican will monitor the count.
How long will it take to tally the final results and why? Be patient! A final, certified election result might not come until after Thanksgiving. That’s because Suffolk County officials expect to receive about 250,000 absentee ballots - more than four times as many they received in the 2016 general election. There are about 1 million registered voters in Suffolk County. Elections officials predict about 750,000 of them will vote in the general election. That means one-third of all ballots cast could be absentee.
When does the count begin? When does it end? Unlike other states, counting absentee ballots in New York cannot begin until after polls close on Election Day. More guidance will come from the Gov. Andrew Cuomo administration on how this process works.