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Local Boards of Elections get ready for an influx of absentee ballots

Monroe County Seal / Logo

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing legislation that will open up the process for requesting absentee ballots for the fall election, local boards of election are expected to get many more of those types of ballots than in past years.

Now, if you have a concern about an outbreak, including the coronavirus, you are eligible to get an absentee ballot.

In Monroe County, Republican Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said that the commissioners have already proactively sent out applications to registered voters. She said if you want to vote by mail, work on getting those ballots in sooner, rather than later.

"The deadlines are still kind of tight, but if people are proactive and get things in sooner than the deadline then it will be a way to work better with the post office and ease the backlog and hopefully not everybody is jamming up the mail system a week before election day," Nicolay said.

The state had also opened up the absentee ballot process for the June primaries, but the general election is expected to bring in many more voters. Nicolay said the local board is hiring seasonal workers and getting some additional sorting equipment to help deal with the process.

She said another challenge will be finding enough polling sites since some locations are not available due to the pandemic. Nicolay said the board has had some luck with businesses that have large spaces that may be available and she hopes to hear from more of them.

"We encourage them to call us and we will send folks out to see if that’s going to be a good spot for us. We do still need polling locations and we still do need polling workers (and) we need elections inspectors to work on election day and that’s a paid position."

Nicolay said applications for absentee ballots have already gone out and she encourages voters to get them in sooner rather than later so they are not having to worry about whether their ballots will get through the mail in time to meet the various deadlines.

Here’s some info about the upcoming deadlines from the Monroe County Board of Elecitons (and you can get more information at

Starting on August 18, absentee ballot applications were mailed out to all actively registered voters in Monroe County.  Although voters' assigned polling sites will be open on election day, if you prefer to vote using an absentee ballot you will need to fill out and return the application by October 27.  In October, absentee ballots will be mailed out to those voters whose applications have been successfully processed.  Absentee ballots may be mailed in or dropped off at the Board of Elections Office 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. or dropped off at your polling site on Election Day, November 3 or dropped off at any of the Early Voting polling sites during the Early Voting dates/times. 

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.