MAYVILLE — With COVID-19 concerns and social distancing recommendations, the Chautauqua County Board of Elections Commissioners are urging voters to apply now for absentee ballots for the upcoming November elections.
Commissioners Norman Green and Brian Abram said it is not too early to apply for the absentee ballots with an approved reason.
“It’s not too early to apply for absentee ballot for any allowed reason,” said Abram.
Absentee ballot applications are available for download at votechautauqua.com or by calling the Board of Elections at 716-753-4580 to have an application mailed.
”If voters are concerned for the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend voters select ‘Temporary Illness’ as the reason on the application for voting absentee,” said Green. “This is a worldwide pandemic and each of us may or may not be virus carriers and thus we are all eligible to check off temporary illness as the reason to qualify for a NYS absentee ballot.”
Other categories for absentee ballot applications include: being permanently physically unable to go to the polls; being a care giver for a voter who is permanently unable to go the polls, who must reapply each year; being out of the county on Election Day; being a military or overseas voters, who must reapply every two years and are able to download their ballot; voters who move out of the county too late to register in their new locale out of state may apply for a special presidential ballot.
Ballots will be mailed in Chautauqua County starting on Friday, Sept. 18. The period to apply for an Absentee Ballot with a United States Postal Service postmark is now through October 27. Absentee Ballots are not able to be forwarded, so voters should fill out applications now with a ballot to mailed where they will be the week of September 18.
Absentee voting will run Friday Sept. 18, through 5 p.m., Monday Nov. 2, at the Board of Elections Hall Clothier Building, 7 N. Erie St. Mayville, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. daily. Early voting will be held Saturday, Oct. 24 to Sunday, Nov. 1, in Mayville, at the Chautauqua Mall, Lakewood, and at the County Fairgrounds, Dunkirk.
In person voting will be held as always at all county poll sites Nov. 3, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Social distancing and masks will be required for all in person voting and masks will be provided if a voter does not have one. Election inspectors are trained to be accommodating to voters who refuse to wear a mask and will take precautions including the limiting of other voters to enter the poll site while the non-masked voter is voting and to completely clean any area where the non-masked voter touches or may have contaminated.
Due to the pandemic, the Board of Elections is preparing for as many as 35,000 absentee ballots to be requested and mailed for this year election out of an enrollment of nearly 77,000 active voters. More information may be obtained about voting by visiting www.votechautauqua.com.
In related news, the New York State Legislature passed automatic voter registration, which introduces a streamlined, more accessible voter registration process, officials said
New Yorkers would be automatically registered whenever they interact with a “qualified” government agency like the DMV or Department of Health. Millions of New Yorkers use these city and state agencies for basic necessities like housing, social services, health insurance, disability services, unemployment insurance, etc.
Having passed the Senate on Wednesday and the Assembly on Thursday, the legislation still must be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to become a law. The bill would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Automatic voter registration, or AVR, is part of a legislative package building on previous voting rights legislation. Counting Washington D.C., 20 states already have some form of AVR.