Forget the long lines, vote early — at least that's the concept behind early voting in New York this year.
For the first time, New Yorkers will be able to cast their ballot ahead of Election Day instead of showing up for the usual 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on one day.
Before you cast your ballot, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about early voting:
When can I start voting early?
Starting Saturday. So instead of voting only November 5, you can cast your ballot on one of nine days, October 26 to November 3, ahead of Election Day.
Is the process for casting my vote the same?
For the most part, yes, but the ballot will be on demand. So to sign in when you show up at your polling site, you will sign an electronic poll book like you would a traditional hardcover book.
A printer will then print your ballot:
The rest of the process remains the same.
"It will come out and look just like the ballots you are used to seeing. You'll take this ballot, the same way you do on Election Day, you place it in the scanner machine. It will come up, 'Thank you for voting,' and you will be on your way. It's a simple as that," New York City Board of Elections Executive Director Mike Ryan said.
Only fill in one bubble or candidate for each race, otherwise your ballot won't count.
Don't forget to check the entire ballot — you'll also need to vote on revisions to the NYC charter (basically our constitution).
When you're done filling out your ballot, scan it into the machine and it'll be officially cast.
Where will these early voting polling sites be located?
Here's where the New York City Board of Elections will operate the 61 early voting polling sites in the five boroughs:
The borough-by-borough breakdown:
11 in the Bronx
18 in Brooklyn
9 in Manhattan
14 in Queens
9 on Staten Island
Do I have to vote at the early polling site closest to me?
You have been assigned a polling site. Voters received a notice in the mail in early October that notified them of their early poll site, as well as their poll site for November 5.
(A sample polling site notice. Courtney Gross/NY1.)
What happens if I won't be present to vote at all?
New York City residents can apply for absentee ballots by writing the Board of Elections, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out an application (accessible on the city's Board of Elections website) and bringing it to their Board of Elections borough office. The application must either be mailed seven days before the election, or returned to the resident's county Board of Elections by the day before the election.
Will the results of early ballots be released before Election Night?
No, you will have to wait until Election Night.
What will I be voting for?
There will be a citywide election for Public Advocate, and an election in Queens for district attorney, as well as some smaller races depending on your location.
Also, don't forget that proposals to amend the New York City charter will be on the ballot.
Do I need to bring anything to vote?
No, you don't. New Yorkers simply need to find their polling site and sign next for their name.
Why did New York implement early voting?
The demands for voting reforms grew louder after hours-long crowds in the city on Election Day 2018 amid massive turnout for the hotly-contested midterm races:
Supporters say early voting will increase turnout and reduce lines on Election Day. New York was among the worst 10 states for turnout in both the 2016 and 2018 elections, continuing a long trend of lower-than-average voter participation. New York was one of only 13 states in the United States that did not allow early voting before this year.
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