Local election officials are urging people to have a plan for voting in November, after concerns about post office slowdowns and absentee ballots have surfaced this summer.

“The post office has recommended for people who are going to mail in their application, mail in their ballots, that they give a 15-day turnaround to mail in their applications, let us process those applications and send in your ballots,” Otsego County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner of Elections Michael Henrici said at the Otsego County Board of Representatives meeting Wednesday, Sept. 2. The meeting was held via Zoom and broadcast on Facebook Live because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We recommend voters apply immediately and fill out the ballot as soon as you can,” Henrici said.

Absentee ballots can also be dropped off at the Board of Elections office at the Meadows Office Complex at 140 County Highway 33W in the town of Middlefield or at any polling place on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Henrici also said the Board of Elections is recommending people take advantage of early voting days, which are from Saturday, Oct. 3, through Sunday, Nov. 1.

“We have varied hours to try to give people the most options for voting outside of their work hours,” he said.

In Otsego County, early voting is in Classroom B at 140 County Highway 33W in the town of Middlefield. On the Saturdays and Sundays, early voting will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, early voting will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday, early voting will be from noon to 8 p.m.

In Chenango County, Mary Lou A. Monahan, the Republican commissioner of elections, said she has been advised of similar guidelines by the state.

“We have not had direct communication with the post office, but have been made aware by the New York State Board of Elections that the post office is advising to allow 15 days’ mailing time from the start of the absentee ballot application process to receiving a ballot to mailing the ballot back to us,” she said. “The 2020 political calendar deadline of Oct. 27, to postmark an absentee ballot application does not allow for true mailing time.”

The state Board of Elections announced the creation of a one-stop absentee ballot web portal Tuesday, Sept. 2. The portal will allow all registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot at elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html

“The portal will make it easier for New Yorkers to apply for an absentee ballot and it will also make it easier for our boards to process the applications,” said Todd D. Valentine, co-executive director of the board, in a media release.

Because of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders, absentee ballots can be requested based on a fear of catching COVID-19.

County BOEs are not involved with village elections, which will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15, after being postponed twice by Cuomo earlier in the year. Contact the local village office or village clerk for local election information.

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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