HUDSON — The clock is ticking.
There are eight days left to register to vote in the upcoming November election.
Voters must be registered in order to cast their ballot. The deadline to register is Oct. 9.
“This is how our political system functions,” said Ken Dow, Democratic elections commissioner for Columbia County. “It really depends on the participation of citizens to cast their votes and make their preferences known. You’re not going to get a government that represents the voices of the citizens if they don’t go out and vote. If people want to have a say, they need to register and cast their vote.”
People can register in person, by mail or online with their local county board of elections or the state Board of Elections. People can also register to vote through a participating agency, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, if they have a state-issued form of identification.
“It is a right we all have. I think people should be engaged in the process of choosing their elected representatives,” said Brent Bogardus, Republican election commissioner for Greene County. “I encourage everyone to register and participate, learn about the candidates, be informed and do what they believe is the right thing to do.”
People can also register by mail by filling out a registration form and sending it to the local Board of Elections by the deadline. Registration forms can be found online or they can be mailed by the county Board of Elections.
The Greene County Board of Elections is located at 411 Main St., Suite 437, Catskill, and the Columbia County Board of Elections is at 401 State St., Hudson.
Mail-in registration applications must be postmarked no later than Oct. 9, and received by a board of elections by Oct. 14, to be eligible to vote Nov. 3. In-person applications have to be brought to the board of elections by Oct. 9.
A more recent option for New York voters is early voting.
This allows voters to cast their ballot nine days prior to the official election date.
All registered voters in Columbia County may vote early at 401 State St., Hudson. Registered voters in Greene County may vote early at the Greene County Office Building, 4th floor, Suite 430, 411 Main St., Catskill.
Early voting at both locations will take place Oct. 24 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Oct. 25 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Oct. 26 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Oct. 29 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 30 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 31 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and Nov. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
An absentee ballot allows a voter to vote in the election without physically going to their local polling site.
This year voters can request an absentee ballot if they have concerns about COVID-19 exposure. People can request an absentee ballot in person at their local county elections office or obtain an absentee application online or by mail.
The last day to apply for an absentee ballot online, by fax or by e-mail is Oct. 27. The last day to apply in person for an absentee ballot is Nov. 2. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by the board of elections by Nov. 10 to be counted.
“There’s definitely a lot of reasons you would want to be registered to vote this year,” said Jennifer Wilson, deputy director for the League of Women Voters of New York State. “In 2020, everyone is very well aware that it’s a presidential election year but here in New York we also have our members of Congress up for election, all of our state Assembly and state Senators, state Supreme Court justices, and we have a number of local elections throughout the state.”
Some voters in New York City received their absentee ballots with return envelopes labeled with information not matching their correct address or name, Wilson said. Voting with an absentee ballot sent in an envelope with incorrect information on it could invalidate the ballot.
There have been no reports of similar issues in upstate New York, Wilson said.
“It’s seeming like this is a New York City-specific issue,” Wilson said. “They used a vendor who maybe didn’t have the most up-to-date list of voters. Most county boards of elections, especially upstate, are doing their mailings in-house so it’s going to be very thorough, but I would definitely urge voters that when you do get an absentee ballot, just to go over the envelope and the ballot. If any of the information on it isn’t looking correct, give your county board of elections a call.”