Could absentee ballots hold up New York’s election results? It depends on the race.
New Yorkers are voting for a second time this summer, in an August election that will decide not only primary candidates for Congress and the State Senate races but also the winner of a key special election.
Given that it’s August, many New Yorkers enjoying the final weeks of summer have opted to vote absentee, with some 210,000 absentee ballots requested in races statewide, according the New York State Board of Elections. Of those, just 37 percent had been received by Friday. The number is expected to climb throughout Tuesday, the deadline for the ballots to be postmarked, and into next week.
Many of the ballots in hand will be counted on Tuesday night, thanks to a new state law intended to expedite election results. Under these rules, counties must begin processing absentee votes within four days of their receipt and can begin to tally them one hour before polls close, which they do at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. In 2020, many local boards of election did not even begin counting absentee ballots until the week after Election Day, with some waiting nearly two weeks.
But with mail ballots likely to continue arriving for days, winners may not be immediately called in particularly tight races and those with higher-than-expected turnout.
Chief among these are the blockbuster races in New York’s 10th and 12th congressional districts, where absentee ballot requests far outstripped those from other districts in New York City.
In the free-for-all contest to fill New York’s 10th Congressional District, more 21,000 absentee ballots were requested, of which just 7,192 had been returned to the New York City Board of Elections as of Tuesday morning.
In Manhattan’s 12th Congressional District, where Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn B. Maloney are duking it out along with a third challenger, Suraj Patel, nearly 35,000 absentee ballots were requested and about 16,000 returned — more than double the combined total of returned mail ballots so far from the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and 13th Congressional Districts.
The trend continues in the Hudson Valley, where local officials say more than 15,000 absentee ballots were requested for the special election to determine whether the seat Antonio Delgado gave up to become lieutenant governor will stay Democratic.
. The new rules meant to speed up vote counting could create headaches for some indecisive voters.
Previously, those who had requested an absentee ballot could still cast an in-person ballot at a voting machine. The new law prohibits the practice. Instead, voters who have requested a mail ballot have the option to fill out an affidavit ballot, to be counted only if the voter’s absentee one is not received.
Statewide results will begin to be posted to the state Board of Elections website soon after the polls close on Tuesday.