Due to my physical limitations since getting spinal surgery in June, I decided to take advantage of New York State’s Absentee Ballot program for the 2022 election cycle.
Although I am acutely aware of the 2020 Presidential Election absentee ballot debacle (real or imagined), I felt confident enough that the Elections Board (at least here in Nassau County) must have worked out all the kinks by now, right? After all the nonsense about ghost ballots, stuffing the ballot box and mailing ballots to voters who did not request them, I thought I would try it.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not entirely disabled. Just a few months post-surgery, I can walk short distances and stand for short periods. I don’t know what I will encounter during the early voting or Election Day. Once I get inside, I might need a chair to sit down or something to lean on. It’s a critical midterm election, and I want to ensure my voice is heard.
I Googled how to obtain a New York State Absentee Ballot and went to the Nassau County website (https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/567/Absentee-Ballot-Application). There are three different ways to get a ballot, depending on your level of computer competence.
To request a ballot online, you enter personal information through the ominous-sounding “Nassau County Absentee Ballot Portal.” Here you will enter the county you live in, your name and your date of birth. Once verified as a registered voter, complete the request form, identifying where and how you want the ballot delivered (your address, a different address, or pickup at the board of elections office) and the reason for requesting an absentee ballot (be aware, there is no selection for “I don’t want to go out of my house anymore”).
Absentee ballot requests can also be printed, filled out by hand, and mailed to the Nassau County Board of Elections. One caveat, the Board of Elections MUST receive your request 15 days before Election Day (Nov. 8).
The last option is to mail them an old-fashioned letter with all your pertinent information: Name, date of birth, address and so on.
As a healthcare IT professional, I chose the portal to request the absentee ballot. An oversized envelope arrived from the Nassau County Board of Elections within a few days.
It contained a complete ballot, a “ballot” envelope and a “return” envelope. Once you have completed your ballot (coloring in the dots), place it in the “Ballot” envelope, which you will sign, date and seal. The board of elections will verify your signature to the one on file. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the signature they might have on file for me. I only remember signing that card once—when I was 18.
Place the “ballot” envelope inside the prepaid “return” envelope and ensure the barcode peaks through the little window. Once completed, drop the package off at any Election site during early voting until election day. If you trust the postal service (and who doesn’t?), it must be postmarked by Election Day and arrive no later than seven days after the polls close.
Can it be any easier than that? No waiting in a line, no anxiety over placing your ballot in that scanning machine, only to be told you put it in the shredder instead. No worrying about running into your nosy neighbor who always asks, “Who did you vote for?”
It reminds me of when NY State came up with EZ Pass. At first, I didn’t trust it. I thought I would be overcharged or get stopped at the toll booth and forced to lie on the ground with a gun pointed at my head because my EZ Pass account was suspended. Now I love the EZ Pass system and never travel without it. There is no greater joy than rolling up to a toll booth with EZ Pass and seeing that green light come on, saying, “Thank You!”
Here’s hoping the board of elections continues to make future voting as “EZ” as possible
Paul DiSclafani’s new book, A View From The Bench, is a collection of his favorite Long Island Living columns. It’s available wherever books are sold.