ALBANY, NY – New York State lawmakers are reviewing the impact that COVID-19 had on the June Primary.
NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on some of the challenges and how officials are hoping to make improvements for the General Election.
All races from the June Primary have been called, but the process took some more time this year due to the more than 1.2 million absentee ballots statewide.
((John Conklin, NYS Board of Elections Director of Public Information)) That was a huge, astronomical number. Something we’ve never seen before in our primary election so it took some boards quite a while to process all the absentees that they had.
At today’s hearing to review the election Senator Zellnor Myrie said while many people took advantage of early voting, in-person voting and absentee voting, there were some issues.
((Zellnor Myrie, NYS Senator)) Too many New Yorkers saw their democracy fail them during this pandemic. Thousands of absentee ballots were discarded.
Many people had bad experiences at their polling sites.
Some absentee ballots were not filled out correctly. There was also a post office error where some absentee ballots primarily downstate didn’t receive a cancellation mark.
((John Conklin, NYS Board of Elections Director of Public Information)) that is one of the elements that’s required for an absentee ballot to be valid. If you mail it and it arrives at your local board after election day then it has to have a cancellation mark on it that proves it was mailed either on or before election day.
The postmark issue is still being litigated.
Meanwhile lawmakers and officials are looking for solutions to prepare for the anticipated 8 million voters in the general election.
((Robert Brehm, NYS Board of Elections Co-Executive Director)) We need to resolve the inconsistencies in the election law. The 7 day postmark on an absentee application, it’s not workable in a pandemic, it’s not workable anytime.
Brehm also says there needs to be a bigger non-partisan message out to voters to not wait to get an application, mail ballots in early and take advantage of Early Voting.
There’s also legislation being discussed to allow for secure ballot drop boxes as another option for people to turn in an absentee ballot.