While the coronavirus pandemic has presented an array of challenges this
voting season, it has also sparked new state initiatives to ease the voting process.
Nancy Marr, president of the League of Women Voters in Brookhaven, said
this year, Suffolk County legislators have announced plans to increase its number of early voting sites.
There will be 12 early voting sites in Suffolk this year: Brookhaven, Islip and
Huntington will have two sites, while East Hampton, Southampton, Southold,
Riverhead, Smithtown and Babylon will have one.
Moreover, state officials announced earlier this month that voters can bring
their completed absentee ballots to county election boards now, or to early voting sites, as early as Oct. 24. Suffolk County currently has 336 polling places.
During a coronavirus briefing Sept. 8, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter that the executive order will “allow absentee ballots to be returned to drop boxes without a wait at 300-plus locations statewide.”
In Suffolk, voters can drop their absentee ballots off at the Suffolk County
Board of Elections office in Yaphank on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or at any of the 336 early voting or general election polling sites during operating
However, Marr said that due to a delay at the country level, some absentee ballots have yet to be distributed.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Well, I sent in my application, but I haven’t heard
anything,’” she said.
This has produced some concern from the public that their vote may not be
counted, Marr said.
“It’s recommended that people sign up to receive an absentee ballot, and then as soon as they get the ballot, they should return it to the Board of Elections at one of the early voting sites,” she said.
Marr said she believes the pandemic has helped community members obtain
absentee ballots more readily than in years past. She said that this year, there
has been a “greater effort to reach people” through social media and other websites, as well as more opportunities to register online and get information.
Earlier this month, the New York State Board of Elections added a webpage for voters to quickly apply for a mail-in ballot.
The deadline to register to vote in the state is Oct. 9. More information can be
found at suffolkvotes.com.
A nationwide organization with chapters around the country, the League of Women Voters aims to educate and empower voters. The Brookhaven chapter has collaborated with local libraries – most recently the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Library and the Patchogue-Medford Library – to offer general voting information to the public.