If you’re anxious to cast your ballot in this year’s state and national elections, or you think you might not be available to vote on Nov. 8, you don’t have to wait until Election Day.
You just have to wait until Saturday.
That’s when early voting starts in New York, giving registered voters in the state an opportunity to cast their ballots for governor, state attorney general, state comptroller the state Legislature, House of Representatives, one U.S. Senate seat, a $4.2 billion state environmental bond act and, in a handful of communities, a local seat or two.
The governor’s race to begin a new four-year term pits Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul against Republican downstate Congressman Lee Zeldin.
That’s just one reason voters might want to jump into voting early. In addition, all state legislators, statewide offices and all members of the House of Representatives are up for election this year as well.
While the state Legislature is likely to stay in control of Democrats, many polls show Republicans gaining control of the U.S. House and perhaps even the U.S. Senate. That’s why this year’s vote is vitally important.
Also on the ballot is a $4.2 billion state environmental bond act proposal, which would allow the state to borrow money for sewer and water infrastructure upgrades, protection for low-lying areas prone to flooding, and green power initiatives like solar arrays and zero-emission school buses.
Voting early is much the same as voting on Election Day, although the times and locations of voting may be different than on actual Election Day.
Go online or call your county Board of Elections for times and locations. Counties are required to offer early voting for nine days starting Saturday. That’s particularly convenient for those who work during a traditional work week or odd hours, since early voting dates include the next two Saturdays and Sundays.
If voting in person isn’t something you’re able or willing to do, New Yorkers can vote by absentee. You can no longer request absentee ballots by mail, but you can request them from your local Board of Elections in person up until Monday, Nov. 7. Ballots have to be postmarked or returned in person by Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Parts of New York’s covid-era absentee ballot law are currently under court challenge, including whether ballots can be counted on Election Day and whether fear of catching covid is a legitimate reason for voting by absentee. Boards of Elections have to accept your ballots and preserve them until the court challenges are decided.
New York gives you multiple opportunities to vote without having to show up on Election Day.
Voting is important. And now you have fewer excuses for avoiding it than ever.
For information, visit the New York State Board of Elections website at https://www.elections.ny.gov/.