absentee ballots

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York election workers would have to start counting absentee ballots earlier under legislation that passed the state Senate Wednesday.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Mike Gianaris, say the state must prevent another election year like 2020, when delays, litigation and mistakes by election boards who faced a flood of absentee ballots led to days, weeks and in some instances months of confusion over election results in New York.

A version of this story was originally published by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Republicans in the Georgia legislature have released legislation that proposes tougher restrictions on both absentee and in-person early voting, among other sweeping changes to election laws after an election in which Democrats won the presidential race in the state and flipped two U.S. Senate seats.

Florida resident Kirk Nielsen was very careful when he went to vote this fall. He did it early and deposited his mail-in ballot in one of many drop boxes provided by his local election office in Miami-Dade County.

"So early voting, drop box. Checked the supervisor of elections website a couple of days later and it was tabulated," he said. "It worked swell."

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Policies favoring secrecy over transparency have meant that New Yorkers will be among the last Americans to learn the final vote tallies in the 2020 election, with results in a few races still unknown one month after Election Day.

Several of the locally run elections boards responsible for processing a record 2 million absentee ballots cast in the state decided not to release any rolling updates on how their count of those mail-in votes was progressing until the very last vote was tallied.


Democrat John Mannion is claiming victory in the 50th State Senate District race over Republican Angi Renna, who led by more than 7,000 votes on election night. Mannion took the lead on Monday by close to 2,300 votes. Onondaga County has resumed counting absentee ballots, after an outbreak of COVID-19 infections stopped the count, more than two weeks ago.

Jason Smith / WRVO News (file photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York may permanently expand voting by mail — something it tried on a wide scale for the first time this year — while also trying to reform its molasses-slow and opaque process for counting absentee ballots.

A proposed constitutional amendment would do away with the rule limiting absentee voting to people who are ill, have a physical disability or will be out of town on Election Day.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The counting of absentee ballots in Onondaga County might not resume until the end of the month, after eight positive cases of COVID-19 were reported among staffers at the county Board of Elections. But the elections commissioners have a plan, as a state deadline looms.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County has suspended it’s absentee ballot count until sometime next week, after a Board of Elections worker tested positive for the coronavirus.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said Friday the worker has not been at the BoE office since November 5, and has not participated in any absentee ballot count. He said the office was notified of the positive test around 11 a.m. Friday. At that point, the counting was stopped, the ballots secured, and all Board of Elections staff members were sent to the Central New York Regional Market to be tested for COVID-19.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Central New York Democratic State Sen. Rachel May has declared victory over Republican challenger Sam Rodgers in the 53rd state Senate race. May leads by more than 10,000 votes, with about 5,000 absentee ballots left to be counted. In a statement, May said she's grateful central New Yorkers voted decisively to give her a second term.

Meanwhile, Onondaga County started counting absentee ballots in the 50th state Senate race between Republican Angi Renna and Democrat John Mannion. Renna’s campaign has objected to nearly 500 ballots, over issues like time stamps of when ballots were received and matching signatures. A campaign has the right to make objections, but it’s raising some concerns.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga and Cayuga counties are delaying the start of counting absentee ballots until Tuesday. This comes after a court challenge by Republican state Senate candidate Angi Renna’s campaign.

Election Day itself went off far more smoothly than many election officials would have predicted seven months ago, as the pandemic took hold in the middle of primary season.

But for months, those officials warned that the expected influx of mail-in votes this year could mean a longer wait before the winner of the presidency was known.

As Nov. 3 turned into Nov. 4, it became clear that's exactly what was happening.

Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots could be rejected this November because of mistakes, such as missing or mismatched signatures. Voter advocacy groups, political parties and others are rushing to help voters fix — or "cure" — their ballots before it's too late, so they can be counted.

Common Cause is one of many organizations actively calling voters in key battleground states, where even a small number of rejected ballots could make a big difference in the outcome of a close election.

Many Texans who were hoping to vote by mail during this election are instead having to vote in person.

So far, about a million Texans have cast a ballot during the state's extended early voting period, which started Tuesday.

Texans were put into this position thanks to a confluence of events that includes the solidly Republican state becoming more competitive and the nation's federal courts becoming more conservative.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Mail-in ballots are getting more scrutiny than ever before this year. More people than ever are expected to use the option to cast an absentee ballot by mail so they don’t have to go to potentially crowded polling places during the pandemic, and elections officials and candidates are taking steps to make sure every vote gets counted.

Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash

With early voting underway in many states, NPR explores an extraordinary election season coinciding with the global pandemic. Hosts Scott Detrow and Juana Summers report on how to navigate unprecedented challenges to casting a ballot this year. We’ll also hear about long-existing impediments to voting and how they’ve been exacerbated this year.

COVID-19 is still spreading across the United States, but you would barely know it by how people are planning to vote this year.

As the pandemic took hold in the spring, voting experts predicted a national shift toward mail or absentee voting. Some experts predicted as many as 70% of all votes cast could be by mail, as was the case in Wisconsin's April primary.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is requiring board of elections across the state to have ballot drop-off locations at all polling sites. In Onondaga County, ballot drop boxes will be available at every early voting and Election Day poll site, during polling hours, as well as at the Board of Elections, during normal business hours.

Absentee ballots for the upcoming November election have already been mailed out to voters in North Carolina, and voters in some two dozen additional states can expect theirs in the coming few weeks. Because of the coronavirus pandemic a record number of Americans are expected to cast their ballots by mail this year.

President Trump's campaign to discourage the use of mail-in voting this fall is raising concerns among Republicans, particularly in the key swing state of Wisconsin, that his efforts could hinder their party on election night.

Last week, Trump called expanding mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic "the greatest scam in the history of politics" — although there's no evidence to back up his claim that it will lead to widespread voter fraud.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy promised some of the nation's top election officials on Thursday that mailed ballots would be the U.S. Postal Service's top priority this autumn.

DeJoy and the Postal Service have been engulfed in a political firestorm following operational changes he ordered — and now has paused — which slowed the throughput of mail and raised some fears that they might constrain voting by mail.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed executive orders that he said will help ensure safe and secure voting in November’s elections. 

The House passed legislation on Saturday to infuse $25 billion into the Postal Service and block operational changes that Democrats fear could hobble mail-in voting in this November's election.

In a rare Saturday session, the House passed the measure by a vote of 257 to 150, with 26 Republicans siding with Democrats to approve the bill.

An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year's presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR.

That's far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time.

WRVO News (file photo)

New York will immediately allow all voters in the state to request a mail-in ballot for the November elections.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills into law Thursday that, among other things, allow all eligible voters to cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to vote absentee.

Voters can begin requesting absentee ballots right away from their local elections boards, citing the reason that they fear risks of contracting the coronavirus or any other contagious illness. It greatly expands the prior -- and very limited -- reasons that were permitted to obtain an absentee ballot.

NY scrambling for solutions ahead of 2020 election

Aug 19, 2020
Jason Smith / WRVO News


With Election Day less than three months away and no end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight, election officials in New York are scrambling to handle an expected spike in absentee ballots.

Florida's elections system, which has been the butt of political jokes for almost two full decades, got a reprieve this week, as President Trump seemed to indicate it was the only state he felt confident could run a vote-by-mail system.

"Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!"

New York State School Boards Association Facebook

School district budget votes are seeing three to eight times the normal turnout this year as compared to years past. An executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo required all of the voting be done by absentee ballot instead of in-person, because of the coronavirus pandemic. But mail-in voting can be expensive. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

As thousands of absentee ballots are returned, central New York could have a record-breaking turnout for the June primary, next week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing all eligible voters to request absentee ballots, to limit the number of people voting in person, because of the coronavirus pandemic. And for those who do vote in person, they will have to follow some new health safety measures.

In an effort to keep voters safe, states of all political complexions are finding ways to expand access to mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Then there's Texas.

The state has some of the most restrictive laws limiting vote by mail in the country. Under Texas law, the program is open only to people who are 65 or older, people who will be out of the county during the election, people who are in jail and not convicted, and people who are disabled.