Tuesday is primary day in New York; last day to mail absentee ballot

New York's primary day during the coronavirus pandemic will look a lot different than other election days, as New Yorkers mask up to cast ballots in a number of key state and congressional races.

Expect social distancing and possible delays while poll workers sanitize equipment. And also expect delays of the results.

"There's no question you're going to have to wait to see who the winners are, possibly for a week, maybe ten days, maybe even longer," said John Conklin, a spokesperson for the state's Board of Elections.

That's largely because of the surge in absentee ballot requests this year, as people fled the epicenter of the coronavirus. Absentee ballots aren't counted until after polls close.

"It's been an astronomical number of absentee ballots requested," Conklin said. "The board statewide received approximately 1.7 million requests."

He said that's about 11.5 times the requests received in similar elections. While about 98% of requests have been processed, on the eve of the primary, there are still people who say they never got their ballots in the mail.


"I requested an absentee ballot as soon as they said they were available, I think April 14," said Ben Ratner, who left Manhattan months ago for Long Island.

While officials say anyone who didn't receive their ballot in the mail should go vote in person, Ratner said that is not an option for him.

"I don't have an easy ability to get from here in Great Neck to Manhattan to vote, not to mention the safety precautions I was trying to work with, so I'm not going to be able to vote this year," Ratner said, though he hoped issues would be worked out for the general election in November.

Good-government organization Common Cause has set up a hotline for those who have trouble voting.

"Folks should call 1-866-OUR-VOTE if they have any issues at the poll tomorrow or any issues with their absentee ballot," said Sarah Goff, the deputy director of Common Cause New York. "And again, there is the option to vote in person tomorrow."

Those who did receive their absentee ballots but have yet to mail them in must do so by Tuesday so they are postmarked June 23.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Masks will be available for those who don't bring their own.


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