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Board of Elections explains why thousands of absentee ballot applications rejected

BOE Rejection Letter.jpg
A letter from the Monroe County Board of Elections telling a voter their application for an absentee ballot has been rejected. (Photo: Monroe County Board of Elections)

(WHAM) - If you applied for an absentee ballot for the general election in November and then were rejected due to an executive order by Governor Andrew Cuomo, you are not alone.

According to the Monroe County Board of Elections, approximately 17,000 voters who applied for an absentee ballot in November were rejected.

Jackie Ortiz, Commissioner of the Monroe County Board of Elections, said Wednesday the rejection letter was sent to voters who applied between May 12 and June 19 to vote by absentee ballot in the primary election back in June and also checked the section on the application to receive an absentee ballot for the November general election.

However, at the time the ballots were distributed, Cuomo's executive order about allowing an exception due to COVID-19 under the “temporary illness or physical disability” section of the application for absentee ballots only applied to voting in the June primary. The order did not apply to the general election in November, which nullified any application for an absentee ballot for the upcoming elections.

Since that time, the New York State Legislature has passed a law signed by the governor allowing for absentee ballots to be used due to COVID-19 concerns in the November general election.

When applications for absentee ballots were mailed out to voters in August, the 17,000 voters who signed up for absentee voting in November were passed over because they were already designated in the Board of Elections system as having signed up for absentee voting in November.

Due to this snafu, each voter needs to send in a new application to receive an absentee ballot if they choose to vote by absentee in the November election. Voters can fill out the application online, call (585) 753-1550 to discuss the application, or email mcboe@monroecounty.gov to request the application be redone.

Every eligible voter in Monroe County will be sent more information over the next few weeks to explain different ways they can cast their vote, including in person, early voting, and absentee ballot.

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