Know the process

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed how many individuals will choose to vote in this year’s general election. Watertown Daily Times

Did you know that the deadline to register to vote for this year’s general election is Friday?

Did you know that early voting begins Oct. 24? Or that early voting ends Nov. 1?

Did you know that the last day to postmark your application or letter of application for an absentee ballot is Oct. 27? Or that the last day to apply in person for an absentee ballot is Nov. 2? Or that the last day to deliver an absentee ballot in person to a county Board of Elections is Election Day, Nov. 3? Or that absentee ballots sent through the mail system must be received by a county Board of Election no later than Nov. 10?

There is much about the electoral process that many of us are unaware of, and so it’s good to review the rules for voting and affiliated dates. Aside from knowing who’s running in races pertinent to us, we need to be familiar with how to go about voting.

This normally isn’t all that complicated. Just figure out where your polling place is and show up during the hours that the polls are open. If you’re inclined to vote by absentee ballot, follow the usual procedure for doing so.

But this isn’t a typical year. The novel coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into virtually every aspect of our lives, and the election hasn’t been spared.

Do you have a voting plan yet? Elections officials across the country say you should. A voting plan is exactly what it sounds like — a plan to vote. Whether by absentee ballot, or in person, early or on Election Day, elections officials have been working for months to ensure voters have plenty of safe, secure options,” according to a story published Saturday by the Watertown Daily Times. “The rules regarding voting in this year’s election have changed somewhat since the last presidential election in 2016. Most notable are the changes to absentee ballots. The process to vote by absentee ballot has been made much more accessible this year due to the ongoing [coronavirus] pandemic sweeping the globe. Since mid-August, registered voters have been able to call, email, fax or mail their local Board of Elections and request applications for absentee ballots. In years past, requests couldn’t be submitted until early October. Voters can also download a PDF version of the application form from the New York state elections webpage — www.elections.ny.gov — fill it out at home, then mail, fax, email or hand-deliver the form to their local Board of Elections. They can also walk into their local Board of Elections’ offices and fill out forms in person. On Sept. 1, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state set up a new online absentee ballot application portal at absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov. There, voters each can fill out an online form with their county, name, date of birth and ZIP code, and request that an absentee ballot be sent to their home.”

Jude R. Seymour, Republican commissioner for the Jefferson County Board of Elections, reminded voters to sign and date the ballot envelope. The state created a process for election officials to contact voters to correct some mistakes made on their absentee ballots, he said.

People should plan out how they intend to vote and what rules apply to these measures. Contact your Board of Election for more information. Visit voterlookup.elections.ny.gov to review your voter registration and polling site.

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