I've been voting since I was 18 and I've always gone to my local polling place to cast my vote. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it might be my first year ever voting by mail-in absentee ballot. Fortunately, New York has made the process pretty straightforward to get your ballot and send it back in.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law on August 20th that allows voters to request absentee ballots simply because of the pandemic. In the past, you had to provide a valid reason to request an absentee ballot, but this year you just need to mark "temporary illness" on the form because of concerns about becoming infected with or spreading the coronavirus.

STEP ONE: Request an absentee ballot

  • Download an application from the state Board of Elections.
  • Send an email request to your county Board of Elections.
  • Send a fax request to your county Board of Elections.
  • Mail a paper application to your county Board of Elections.
  • Apply in person at any county Board of Elections.
  • Call your county Board of Elections to request an absentee ballot.
  • Electronically through the Absentee Application Portal (not active yet)

STEP TWO: Fill out the ballot

  • Once you receive the ballot, mark the ballot according to your choices for each office following the instructions on the ballot
  • Once you have completed marking your ballot fold it up and place it in the Security Envelope.
  • Sign and date the outside of the Security Envelope.
  • Place the Security Envelope in the Return Envelope.
  • Seal the Return Envelope.

STEP THREE: Return the ballot

  • Put it in the mail ensuring it receives a postmark no later than November 3rd.
  • Bringing it to the County Board of Elections Office no later than November 3rd.
  • Bringing it to an early voting poll site between October 24th and November 1st
  • Bringing it to a poll site on November 3rd.

Election officials are urging people to request an absentee ballot as early as possible because the USPS has said they can't guarantee delivery of a ballot if it's sent out less then 15 days before the election. Also, don't expect to receive your ballot any earlier than September 18th.

One thing that might change between now and election day is a New York online portal that allows you to apply and fill out an absentee ballot without mailing it in. If that becomes available before November 3rd you'll be able to find it on the  New York Board of Elections website.

That's it. Pretty easy. If you have any questions or need to request an absentee ballot you can go to the New York State Elections Website for more information.

Now all you need to do is to exercise your civic duty and vote.

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