New York To Mail Primary Voters Absentee Ballot Applications As Trump Again Threatens USPS

The day after long lines of voters snaked around city blocks, risking their lives to cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Presidential Primary, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo moved our state’s Presidential Primary, originally scheduled for April 28, to Tuesday, June 23.

On April 24, after news broke that at least 19 Wisconsin voters have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, Mr. Cuomo announced the state will now send a postage paid absentee ballot application to every primary voter in New York.

Later Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump doubled down on his threats against the U.S. Postal Service, which could face collapse by September if it doesn’t receive $75 billion in funding.

“We still have elections in the midst of all this chaos. We have seen elections held where we had people on lines for a long period of time. It makes no sense to me to tell people you have to put your life at risk, violate social distancing to come out to vote. So, we passed an executive order that said you can vote by absentee,” said Mr. Cuomo at his April 24 briefing. “Today, I’m asking the Board of Elections to send every New York voter a postage paid application for a ballot. If you want to vote, we should send you a ballot so you can vote, so you don’t have to come out and get in a line.”

Though Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s last serious challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the race April 8, several other state and local races are on the June 23 ballot, including the Democratic Primary for the First Congressional District and for the First New York State Senate District seat held by Kenneth P. LaValle since 1976. Mr. LaValle announced in January that he will not seek re-election.

Mr. Cuomo’s order allows all New Yorkers to select “temporary illness” as the reason they are requesting an absentee ballot, said his aide, Melissa DeRosa, using the logic that the “temporary illness provision includes the risk of contracting Covid-19.”

The state is mailing the ballot applications, she added, to make it easier for people who do not have access to the technology necessary to print a ballot from Board of Elections websites.

While every voter registered with a party in New York will receive an absentee ballot application, if you request and receive an absentee ballot you must vote using that ballot, and you cannot vote during early voting June 13 through June 23 or on Primary Day at your regular polling place, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. In person voting was still scheduled to occur when this post was published April 24.

Absentee ballot applications can also be printed out, in English or Spanish, on the Suffolk County Board of Elections website.

Ballot applications must be either be personally delivered to the Suffolk County Board of Elections not later than the day before the election, or postmarked by a governmental postal service and mailed to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, P.O. Box 700, Yaphank NY, 11980 not later than the seventh day before Election Day, or scanned and emailed to boeinfo@suffolkcountyny.gov.

The absentee ballot itself must either be personally delivered to the Board of Elections no later than the close of polls on Election Day, or postmarked by a governmental postal service not later than the day before the election, and received no later than the seventh day after the election.

The Suffolk County Board of Elections office at 335 Yaphank Avenue in Yaphank (Exit 67 on the Long Island Expressway) is currently open and operating with a skeleton staff from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, but employees there urged members of the public to call ahead at 631.854.4500 before delivering ballot applications in person.

Early voting hours and locations have not yet been established by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, according to an employee who answered the phone Friday.

Suffolk County Election Commissioners Anita Katz and Nick LaLota did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. LaLota, the Republican commissioner had announced earlier this year that he planned to take leave from his position at the Board of Elections to run for State Senate.

New York State has not yet made a decision on whether to allow everyone to vote by absentee ballot in this fall’s General Election on Nov. 3.

Not long after Mr. Cuomo announced that he would be mailing primary ballots to New Yorkers, President Donald Trump took another swipe at the U.S. Postal Service Friday afternoon, after refusing several weeks ago to allow funding for the Postal Service approved in the CARES Act.

Mr. Trump has threatened to withhold funding from the long financially strapped U.S. Postal Service numerous times this spring, as individual states have moved to allow more voting by mail to enable voters to stay home to prevent exposure to the coronavirus.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the White House is now considering authorizing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to approve a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service authorized in the first coronavirus stimulus bill only if the Post Office agrees to reforms.

That $10 billion is just a fraction of the $75 billion the Postal Service had requested to stave off an expected total financial collapse by September.

At a signing ceremony for the second coronavirus stimulus bill Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump called the Post Office “a joke” and said that Amazon, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post, is bleeding the Postal Service dry by mailing packages at low rates.

“If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything,” he said of the Postal Service.

About an hour later, he tweeted an about face:

The state of Ohio, which decided a month ago to hold its April 28 primary by mail (right around the time Mr. Trump began threatening to withhold funding for the Postal Service), reported earlier this week that nearly 1.7 million residents had requested absentee ballots, and mail delays could result in some voters not getting their ballots before Election Day.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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