In an interview with the staff at the Wayne County Board of Elections last week, the big questions that voters are asking about this year’s election were posed.
First - Election Day will still be held on November 3, 2020.
Now the question is....How will voting look in this age of pandemic?
As of now, all regular polling sites will be open for in-person voting.
Of course, many safety restrictions will be employed, with mask wearing, disinfecting, hand sanitizing and social distancing, but anyone who wishes can vote, as usual, at their local polling site.
It was noted that, depending on the Governor and any last minutes changes before Election day, and, due to a possible smaller staffing of election inspectors, polling sites may be condensed.
In-person polling also will include EARLY VOTING at the Board of Elections, (7376 State Route 31, Suite 1200, Lyons NY, in the Public Safety Building) beginning October 24th until November 1st. Hours and details are now posted on the Wayne County Board of Elections website: https:// web.co.wayne.ny.us/index.php/waynecounty- board-of-elections/
Hours and dates for Early Voting are posted on thewebsite.
Last year, only 36 voters took advance of Early Voting at the Board of Election in Lyons.
Elections Commissioner John Zornow noted that it takes the same amount of work to process 36 votes as it does to process 1,000. The machine set ups and staffing are the same as in any other polling site. The Board does encourage voters to take advantage of this option, as it is a smaller and less visited polling site, and you should experience less social contact or delays from standing in line at your local town or village site., Requests for Absentee Ballots must be requested! They are not automatic. If you requested an Absentee Ballot for the Primary this year, you will still need to reapply for one for November, if you still require one.
Absentee ballots may be requested only for certain specific reasons; being uncomfortable with in-person voting crowds due to Covid-19 -- is not one of those reasons. Although there is some legislation introduced to possibly change that...it is not now a valid reason to obtain an absentee ballot.
Here is the requirements, as stated on the Absentee Ballot application: “I am requesting, in good faith, an absentee ballot due to (check one reason): - Absence from county ... on election day - Temporary illness or physical disability - Permanent illness or physical disabiliy - Duties related to primary care of one of more individuals who are ill or physically disabled.
- Patient or inmate in Veterans Administration hospital - Detention in jail/prison, awaiting trial, awaiting action by grand jury, or in prison for a conviction of a crime or offense which was not a felony.”
Absentee ballot applications (available for download on the W.C. Board of Elections website) may be filled out and requested now. The BOE encourages voters to get their requests in early. Although the ballot will not be certified and ready to mail until October, the staff indicated that they would rather have a duplicate request than have you miss your deadline.
The Post Office has indicated that voters should allow at least 15 days for delivery.
Another concern with voting this year is whether or not the proper number of election inspectors will be available. While is takes as many as 350 inspectors to handle a Presidential election, it is yet unknown if that number will be met. With a survey of 600 of the inspectors that the Wayne County Board of Supervisors has on file (registered and trained), they are hoping that the response will be sufficient. According to Kelley Borrelli, Deputy Election Commissioner, several regular inspectors have already indicated that they are not comfortable with being in a group setting this year. Some are vulnerable with age or health worries. It remains to be seen if an Election Inspector Training will be needed.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK!
The Election Commissioners, Mark Alquist and John Zornow, and Deputy Commissioners Joyce Krebbeks and Kelley Borrelli welcome your questions. They are aware of the many concerns. “So many people hear rumors or stories from their neighbors about closed polling sites or changes in dates and rules. “We don’t want anyone to be uninformed or misinformed,” said Joyce.
Voters may call the Wayne County Board of Elections during regular hours 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
Besides the Commissioners and Deputies, the election clerks: Jennifer Johnson and Mindy Robinson are well versed in answering the questions you have, or can research them for you., As far as mailing concerns, the BOE recommends that you not take a chance with application requests for Absentee Ballots or in mailing the ballots themselves. With deadlines and mailing dates always of major importance, just ask your post office clerk to date-stamp your mail. Don’t leave it to chance.
The last day of in-person voter registration for this election is October 9th. If you are mailing a voter registration, please be sure it is postmarked by October 9th.
If you have registered to vote, and you show up at a polling site on Election Day and they do not have your name on the list, you may request to vote by affidavit. That insures that your vote is registered even if your paperwork was delayed in getting to the polling site by that day.
The Board of Elections Staff are asking, for the safety of you and others at the polling site, that you wear a mask and try to be socially distance while waiting your turn. Inspectors will be supplied with gloves, and masks and hand sanitizer for their personal protection.
In last year’s election (2019), 37,152 voters of the County’s 55,346 registered voters showed up to vote. That is 72%. Certainly this year’s Presidential election should bring a large turnout, if voters are informed and prepared.
As of August 3, 2020, the breakdown of major party affiliations in Wayne County include: 1511 Conservatives, 13,804 Democrats, 22,565 Republicans, 2850 Independents. 13,978 are registered as No Party.