Common Cause/NY Election Debrief and Next Steps

NEW YORK, NY (11/04/2020) (readMedia)-- Today, Common Cause/NY held a post Election Day briefing to recap early voting and Election Day in New York and lay out what happens next with the ballot count. The absentee ballot canvass will start as early as Monday for 45 of 62 counties, including New York City.

As it has for the last two presidential cycles, Common Cause/NY participated in the largest nonpartisan Election Protection program in the country, recruiting over 800 volunteers here in New York. Volunteers served as either virtual poll monitors or roving or in-person poll monitors to assist voters with urgent questions, protect voting rights, and ensure adequate safety protections at poll sites. We received approximately 5,000 calls to our hotline over four weeks, and social media volunteers helped over 2,000 voters on twitter and facebook. The majority of calls were typical voter questions, including questions about registration, absentee ballots, and poll site location.

WATCH and LISTEN the briefing here.

"Voters enthusiastically showed up to vote early, thus alleviating the burden on Election Day itself and providing the BOE with enough time to work out any kinks, which is exactly the benefit of not holding an election on a single day. There was unprecedented turnout, and of course more poll sites will help alleviate lines in the future. Wait times on Election Day itself were mostly minimal, and although we were primed to respond to all sorts of problems across the state it was a relatively calm election day," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

Overall, Election Day in New York ran smoothly. Two million New Yorkers voted early for the first time during a presidential election, thus alleviating the burden on Election Day itself and providing the Board of Elections (BOE) with enough time to work out any problems. Data from the Boards of Elections and the hotline show that while turn-out increased wait times decreased as the BOE instituted better line management. The Election Protection hotline did not record major systemic problems, with the exception of Suffolk County where we received more than 90 reports of broken machines in over 50 locations across the county. The issue was sporadic across the county and not concentrated to a particular area.

Now, New York Boards of Elections will begin to count the over one million outstanding absentee ballots. By law, the count can not begin until seven days after Election Day, although that time is shortened this year by Executive Order. Military ballots may not even be received until 16 days after the election.

Lerner urged patience:

"New York voters should understand that we will not know the results of many close races until more than a week later, and that this is not the death of democracy but a sign of life. Any candidate who declares victory too soon or seeks to invalidate the legal counting of ballots diminishes both military and other absentee voters as less worthy than those able to cast their vote in person. The BOE can and must count absentee ballots carefully."