December 6, 2021

Voting in 2020: You have options

Vote stock image

There are many ways to cast your vote in November, the Cortland County Board of Elections points out: absentee, early voting, or in person.

The coronavirus pandemic discourages people from clustering — like in a line waiting at the polling place. And Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told senators Friday he has no plans to restore mailboxes or high-speed sorting machines that have been removed, raising questions about whether absentee ballots can be returned to boards of election on time.

But Cortland County voters have options, said Robert Howe, the county’s Republican elections commissioner.

“For a presidential (election year), it’s always a higher turnout,” Howe said Friday. “Because of all the things going on in the country, in the world, all these things going on there would be a higher turnout — there’s more interest in the election.”

Early voting

Early voting will be Oct. 24 to Nov. 1 at the Cortland County Board of Elections at 112 River St., Cortland. People with disabilities will enter through the front of the building, while others will enter at the rear of the building.

The date and times of early voting:

• Oct. 24 — 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
• Oct. 25 — 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
• Oct. 26 — 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
• Oct. 27 — Noon- 8 p.m.
• Oct. 28 — 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
• Oct. 29 — Noon – 8 p.m.
• Oct. 30 — 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
• Oct. 31 — 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
• Nov. 1 — 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.

The results for early voting will be canvassed and posted after 9 p.m. Nov. 3.

Absentee voting

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Thursday allowing anyone to request an absentee ballot due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Howe said voters looking to request an absentee ballot can get an application online at www.cortland-co.org/182/Elections. People should mark the reason for the absentee as having a “temporary illness” if they are requesting one due to the virus.

People will be allowed to turn in both applications and ballots for themselves and others. For example, if someone has an elderly neighbor who doesn’t want to return an absentee ballot via mail, due to concerns over the U.S. postal system a family member or friend would be allowed to drop it off, the election office said.

The application or ballot can be turned in during business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays until Nov. 3 to the Board of Elections.

If you are mailing a ballot back, Howe said the voter is responsible for the cost of postage.

Howe said normally ballots take about three days to receive if mailed within the county and around five to seven if mailed from outside the county. However, it all depends on the postal system.

An absentee ballot postmarked on or before Nov. 3 will be accepted and counted, Howe said.

Day of election

Election sites will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Howe said. People can look up their polling location and view a sample ballot at www.ntsdata.net/cortlandboe/pollingplacelookup.aspx

Social distancing guidelines will be in place. Poll inspectors will wear masks or face shields and disinfect equipment after use.

Howe said they cannot mandate everyone wear a mask, but that “most everybody is wearing the mask and respecting that.”

Someone who refuses to wear a mask will have to wait outside the polling location until it is empty in order to vote, he said.

The results

Howe said the board will have some tallies from early voting and in-person voting on Election night. However, absentee ballots will take longer, he said, although how much time is unclear.