Early voting sites in Brooklyn and Queens will open on Oct. 24, as scheduled, even if those sites are currently closed as a result of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Cluster Action Initiative,” officials from the state Board of Elections confirmed.
In response to upticks in the virus in the two boroughs, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a plan to stop the spread of the virus by shutting down schools, non-essential businesses. The shutdown would begin on Wednesday if approved by the state. On Monday, Cuomo issued his own version of a shutdown plan which allowed for businesses to remain open but closed schools adding that the state would release new geographical criteria.
On Tuesday, the governor announced that new restrictions would be placed in cluster areas in Brooklyn, Queens and some city suburbs which the state broke up into three color-coded layers. Red zones are the clusters themselves, orange zones are “warning zones” while yellow zones are “precautionary zones.”
Although the governor’s three-ringed layered system was meant to clarifying enforcement measures, many found the maps to confusing.
All polling sites will be equipped with hand sanitizer and poll workers enforce state mask-wearing requirements and space out voters in line and at machines to abide by state social distancing requirements. Machines will be wiped down after every use.
Officials encourage those that are at risk of severe COVID infection, like the elderly, immunocompromised and pregnant, to consider taking advantage of early voting to avoid crowds on election day.
Friday, Oct. 9, is the last day to register to vote in New York state. New Yorkers with a New York state-issued ID, valid driver’s license or learner’s permit can register to vote on the state Department of Motor Vehicles website.
New Yorkers can also register in person at a county board of elections or at a New York state Agency-Based voter registration center or by calling the 1-800-FOR-VOTE hotline to request a voter application. New Yorkers can also request a state voter registration form by mail by entering personal information into an online state mailing list database.
New Yorkers who wish to vote by mail can register for an absentee ballot by visiting nycabsentee.com. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. Applicants should select “temporary illness or disability,” which includes the risk of contracting the coronavirus, as their reason for requesting the absentee ballot.
The request form is also available as a PDF which can be printed and mailed back to the local County Board of Elections. The form, online and in paper, is available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali.