Albany County Legislature and Board of Elections trying to make voting easier and more reliable

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FILE – In this June 30, 2020, file photo, a box of absentee ballots wait to be counted at the Albany County Board of Elections in Albany, N.Y. New York will allow voters to request absentee ballots for the general election because of coronavirus under a new state law signed Thursday, Aug. 20. Lawmakers passed the bill last month, and voting rights groups have been calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the legislation for weeks. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Albany County Legislature and the Albany County Board of Elections are working in partnership to remove unnecessary barriers and provide a more safe and reliable way to vote in November.

On Thursday, August 19 Chairman Andrew Joyce and members of the Legislature joined Board of Elections Commissioner Kathleen Donovan to announce that all voters who request an absentee ballot will be provided with pre-paid postage on the return envelope. This will remove any obstacles for at-risk voters who may not feel comfortable going out to purchase stamps.

“COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and our job is to provide safe, secure and equal access to voting. Our hope is that if people don’t have to worry about how they are going to get to the post office to purchase a stamp or mail their ballot, then they are more likely to participate in the process,” said Chairman Joyce. “I want to thank Commissioner Donovan and the Board of Elections for working with the Legislature to ensure that all residents can exercise their right to vote.

“The Albany County Board of Elections, along with the County Legislature, has approved the use of postage-paid ballot return envelopes for those interested in voting by absentee ballot for the upcoming General Election to provide the voters of Albany County with a safe and effective way to cast their ballot during this surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant,” stated Commissioner Donovan.

“Recent elections have shown there is greater interest in absentee voting. There are several advantages for the voters. They increase voter participation and encourage the voter to study the ballot longer. Prepaid postage will guarantee the return of the ballots,” said Deputy Chairwoman Willingham.

Registered voters are eligible to receive an absentee ballot for several reasons. One of those reasons includes if they are unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability. Temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID, according to the NYS Board of Elections. During the peak of the pandemic, a record number of voters across Albany County requested an absentee ballot.

Voters can apply for an absentee ballot by:

  • Mail
  • Through the absentee portal on the New York State Board of Elections website
  • In person at the Albany County Board of Elections offices located at 260 South Pearl Street in Albany
  • Assign someone to bring the application in-person to the BOE and receive the ballot.

All applications for absentee ballots must be received by the Board of Elections by October 18 or 15 days before the General Election.

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