By Laura Wood and Jarret Berg
Amid the ongoing uncertainty and hardship wrought by the raging COVID-19 pandemic, one bright spot where relief has kept pace with the public health emergency in New York is the progress made reducing longsta
Although there are evolving headwinds to political participation, New York is providing voters safe and convenient options to make their voices heard at the ballot box. For those who have not cast a ballot since the midterm elections in 2018, there are now “Three ways to vote in Election 2020” instead of the single Election Day, providing residents with flexible in-person and remote voting options to choose from in the coming days.
Early Voting: Saturday Oct. 24 – Nov. 1. Thanks to 2019 legislation that created a reasonable in-person early voting period, New York City will now offer residents an additional 64 hours to vote over nine days, including two weekends and evening hours on select weekdays. The early voting period runs from Sat. October 24 – Sun. November 1. During this time City voters may visit their assigned early voting location—one of eighty-eight being deployed around the City. Those that do will privately mark and scan their ballot just as they would on Election Day, minus the big crowds.
Casting a ballot during the early voting period allows New Yorkers to maintain adequate social distance while voting. By spreading voters out over several days instead of one marathon voting day, early voting is one of the most prescient recent reforms, adop
Voting from Home: Request your ballot by Oct. 27. As New York’s COVID infections surged this past spring, Governor Cuomo clarified in an Executive Order that a voter’s unavailability to appear in person due to “temporary illness”—one of the permissible reasons—includes “the prevalence and community spread of COVID-19” illness, including “
For those considering voting from home, it’s easier than ever to do so. Thanks to a new law, anyone with internet access can request a mail ballot online in seconds by completing a simple online form. New Yorkers can also request a ballot by calling 1-866-VOTE-NYC (1-866-868-3692).
Various due process safeguards have also been enac
Despite a recent error that resulted in a large subset of Brooklyn absentee voters receiving incorrect oath envelopes, nobody’s vote will be counted twice because envel
Vote on Election Day: Tuesday Nov. 3, 6 AM– 9 PM: New Yorkers are still welcome to wait for Election Day, the last opportunity to vote, when polls will be open from 6 AM to 9 PM, but now they have some really decent alternatives to avoid crowding at poll sites. But we have to spread the word so New Yorkers can make informed voting plans.
That is why the Mayor’s Democracy NYC Initiative, through an informal consortium of agencies including the Campaign Finance Board and voting rights groups have committed to educating voters about these changes through robust outreach in multiple languages directed at voters in the communities hardest hit by COVID-19, many of which also have historically lower participation.
Many things about New York are necessarily different now, at least for the time being. But one series of long-overdue changes that need not sunset are the many improvements to voter access.
Laura Wood is the Senior Advisor and General Counsel at the Mayor’s DemocracyNYC Initiative. Jarret Berg attorney and co-founder of the non-partisan VoteEarlyNY.