Stakeholders discuss how to handle elections during a pandemic

Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) participated in a joint legislative hearing Aug. 11, 2020, on the impacts COVID-19 has had on our elections and how we can better prepare for the November election.

Nearly two dozen election officials, voter-access groups and advocacy groups testified on the impact the coronavirus had on the June primary elections. They detailed the challenges local boards of elections experienced mailing absentee ballot applications, processing applications, mailing ballots and processing ballots.

Thousands of absentee ballots across the state were thrown out for technical issues like a missing signature or a delayed return of the ballot, and some voters didn’t receive their ballot until after the election.

There were many recommendations to improve the November election process; the most crucial was adequate funding for staff, outreach/education and equipment.

One method to prevent ballots from being thrown out due to a lack of a postmark is to invest in ballot drop boxes. May is the co-prime sponsor of a bill (S.8902) that will allow for contactless ballot drop-offs for absentee ballots.

“We have made great strides during the 2019-20 legislative session to improve New York’s voting laws,” said May. “Now, the current public health crisis has changed the way we have to run our elections. Our elections officials performed admirably under highly difficult circumstances during the June primary, and we must work together to address new challenges that the pandemic has presented. I appreciate all of the elections officials and experts who testified on steps we must take to guarantee safe access to the ballot this November.”

By martha

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