WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

Capitol Bureau correspondent Karen DeWitt reports on what is happening in Albany, and how the decisions made by lawmakers affect you. Karen reports for WXXI and New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to New York Now, the statewide public television program about New York State government seen on WXXI-TV Sundays at 6:30 p.m.  

Voters in New York who have not cast their ballots early in person or by mail go to the polls Tuesday.

While Democrat Joe Biden is heavily favored to win the state over President Donald Trump, there is plenty of action in congressional and state races for voters to weigh in on. 

The 2020 election is the first major one in New York where voters had the choice of casting their ballots early. Polls were open from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. According to the state Board of Elections, over 2.5 million people took advantage of that option, many waiting in long lines.  

Karen DeWitt

All 212 seats in the New York State Legislature are up for election this year. There are over a dozen contested seats in the state Senate where Democrats are favored to win in many of the contests and potentially gain a supermajority. But Republicans say they hope to gain some seats, too. 

Democrats, who took over the Senate two years ago in a decisive series of wins, are poised to pick up even more seats, said Sen. Michael Gianaris, who is overseeing the Democrats’ strategy.

Karen DeWitt

Most of the attention this election season has been focused on the presidential campaign, but there are also a significant number of New York State Senate races in play.

Democrats need just two more seats to gain a supermajority that could potentially override any vetoes of legislation issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

Protests were held Tuesday in four locations in New York over the growing number of state prison inmates infected with the coronavirus.

There have been outbreaks in at least four prisons: the Greene, Clinton and Cayuga correctional facilities and in Elmira, where over 450 inmates have now tested positive for the virus.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to take issue with comments by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said over the weekend that the federal government does not plan to get control of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Meadows said on CNN Sunday that the federal government instead will focus on getting out a vaccine and prescribing therapeutic remedies for those who do get sick. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

The number of incarcerated individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 at a small state prison in Chemung County has grown from just four at the beginning of the month to more than 300 confirmed cases as of this week, according to the latest state data.

Visitors are no longer allowed at the prison, Elmira Correctional Facility, but criminal justice advocates are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state prison agency to do more.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office file photo

Hospitalizations in New York due to COVID-19 have more than doubled over the last month, with the state reporting more than 1,000 hospitalizations Friday for the first time in four months.

Hospitalizations were up to 1,023 on Thursday, according to data released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday. Exactly one month ago Friday, hospitalizations were at 490 in New York.

Minor parties in New York face strict new rules this year to keep their candidates on the ballot without having to resort to petitioning for thousands of signatures, and one is making an all-out effort to boost votes on its line.

Early voting begins in New York on Saturday, and continues through Nov. 1, two days before Election Day.

The number of polling places vary from county to county, but each county is required to have at least one early voting polling site. In larger counties with multiple sites, one has to be in the largest urban area. 

Susan Lerner with the government reform group Common Cause has been closely monitoring the early voting procedures.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office file photo

With 43 states now on New York State’s banned list, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s talking to health experts about a possible testing regimen that could end the mandatory quarantine period.

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