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Cuomo signs new laws, making it easier to vote across New York State

'What happened today is definitely voter-friendly,' said John Conklin, the Director of Public Information for the state Board of Elections.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday he has signed new legislation that will make it easier for New Yorkers to vote in the upcoming election this November.

Cuomo said the legislation is split into three parts:

  1. Voters can request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about COVID.
  2. Voters can request absentee ballots effective Thursday, August 20
  3. All Board of Elections must count:
    1. All ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 7 days after the election
    2. All ballots without a postmark received on November 4 (the day after election day)

"The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation's history," Governor Cuomo said. 

"These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November."

2 On Your Side spoke to John Conklin, the Director of Public Information for the New York State Board of Elections.

"What happened today is definitely voter-friendly," he said. "It will allow many, many more people to apply for an absentee ballot than they could've before. It gives them an easier way to apply for an absentee ballot."

Conklin said previous ways to request an absentee ballot still exist as well.

He added that voters interested should apply sooner rather than later.

"The postal service has told us that they need 15 days for a piece of mail to make round-trip, so if you're gonna apply late in the process, I wouldn't wait any more than 15 days before the election to get my absentee ballot application in so I can get my ballot in time and then return it back to the board in time," Conklin explained. 

If you apply for or even submit your absentee ballot and then change your mind, Conklin said you will still be able to vote in person. 

"The law requires that any absentee ballot, before it is counted, we look at the poll book to make sure that the individual voter did or did not show up at the poll site to vote," he said. "If they did, then the absentee ballot is set aside and not counted."