Editorial: It’s time to head to the polls for early voting

Voting in the 2020 election is underway in several states across the United States. On Saturday, voters in New York get their first chance to cast a ballot.

The early voting period runs for nine days until Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 3.

During the early voting period, registered voters can cast a ballot at any one of 12 locations throughout the county, regardless of which town they reside in. In Riverhead, the Senior Center on Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue will again serve as the polling place, while the Senior Center on Pacific Street in Mattituck will serve as the polling place for Southold Town. In Southampton, the Stony Brook University Southampton campus will serve as a polling place. Times vary by day (See list below).

Early voting in Suffolk County began for the first time in the 2019 general election. It was again utilized during the Democratic primary this year.

On Election Day, residents can still vote at their normal polling place.

The Board of Elections plans to add extra precautions to maintain a safe environment for voters as the threat of COVID-19 continues. Booths, privacy sleeves and pens will continuously sanitized, the BOE said. Voters are required to wear a mask or face covering and maintain social distancing when in any BOE facility or polling site.

Results from the early voting will be reported after 9 p.m. on Election Day and will be included in the unofficial results posted on the BOE website.

CNN reported on Monday that more than 28 million Americans had already voted for president. That figure represents nearly 20% of the total turnout in the 2016 election, CNN noted.

There’s also still time for voters to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail. An executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year allows for any registered voter to request an absentee ballot due to the ongoing pandemic.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27 — no later than seven days before the election — for requests via mail, email, fax or phone or through the New York State BOE Portal. An absentee ballot can still be requested in person up to the day before Election Day — Nov. 2.

Absentee ballots are typically sent out between one and three days after the BOE receives an application. However, due to an increase in volume, the BOE says it may take a few days longer.

Absentee ballot applications can be found online here. Additional information on absentee ballots is also available at that site. A voter may still vote in person after they request an absentee ballot. A bipartisan team of election clerks verify that an absentee voter has not cast a ballot on a machine, the BOE says.

Counting of absentee ballots is expected to extend well past election night, which may leave the outcome in doubt for a week or longer. Final results for the Democratic primary were not confirmed until 16 days after in-person voting was held.

Anyone who has not yet registered as a voter is out of luck as that deadline has since passed.

Early voting times

  • Oct. 24: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Oct. 25: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Oct. 26: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Oct. 27: Noon – 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 28: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 29: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 30: Noon – 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 31: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Nov. 1: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.