Last updated: Oct 05, 2020

New York

New York’s Primary Election: Challenges in the Lead-Up to November

Last updated: August 23, 2020

Despite single party control that might avoid the policy disagreements paralyzing other states’ response to the pandemic, New York experienced a variety of administrative challenges in its primary.  Despite the state's attempts to address the challenges of rapid expansion of vote-by-mail and maintaining in-person voting options, primary voters experienced high absentee ballot rejection rates and delays in the delivery of ballots. Consequently, the results of some races were not known until six weeks after the election. The problems New York faced in its primary represent an object lesson for all states as to the emergency measures that must be taken immediately to prepare for November.  

Latest Updates:

  • 10/1/20 - Poll Worker Compensation: Jobless New Yorkers can keep their unemployment benefits even if they receive compensation for working at the polls, according to Governor Cuomo's new executive order.

  • 9/29/20 - Absentee Ballot Mistake: Voters in Queens and Brooklyn have been receiving absentee ballots addressed to the wrong person, which has caused confusion. Ballots will be discarded if signed by the wrong person; however, voters will still be able to vote if they receive a second, and accurate ballot, or vote in person.

  • 9/15/20 - Election Law Change: Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S.8370B, which requires that voters be notified of deficiencies in their absentee ballots and be given the opportunity to cure such errors. Cuomo also signed Senate Bill S.8779A, which provides that absentee ballots received and time stamped by the day after Election Day be counted regardless of whether or not they bear a postmark.

  • 9/15/20 - Ballot Tracking System: New York City voters can now track the status of their absentee ballots via the City's online tracking system. The system allows voters to see whether the BOE has received their absentee ballot request, mailed their ballot, and accept or challenged their ballot. In the case of a challenge, voters are given a chance to cure their ballot.

  • 9/15/20 - New Ways to Vote: New York voters can now drop their absentee ballots in no-wait ballot drop boxes at BOE offices, early voting locations, and Election Day polling locations, as pursuant to Governor Cuomo's executive order.

State Resources: