As the special election for New York's 3rd Congressional District approaches, voters are gearing up to cast their ballots to fill the vacant seat left by former Congressman George Santos. With Democrat Tom Suozzi and Mazi Melesa Pilip, although a Democrat, running on the Republican ticket, in contention, the stakes are high, and the process may seem a bit different this time around.
Barbara Epstein, co-president of the east Nassau branch of the League of Women Voters, shed light on the voting procedures. She addressed potential concerns by providing insights into the details of the upcoming election, including early voting, absentee ballots, and the League of Women Voters' involvement.
Registered voters living in the 3rd Congressional District should have received a card from the Board of Elections, Epstein said, providing information about early voting dates and locations. Some voters have complained to the league that there is not a site in Oyster Bay. Epstein said selection of early voting sites is determined by the Board of Elections in collaboration with areas willing to host such services.
“There are 11 early voting sites throughout the district,” Epstein said. “It’s the decision of the Board of Elections to choose where to put them.”
Jim Scheuerman, the Democratic commissioner for the Board of Elections, emphasized that the special election was the first election in state history that allows voters to vote by mail without giving a reason, making it significantly easier for people who may otherwise struggle to take the time off of work to vote. Though the law is facing challenges, for now, it remains applicable for the special election.
“Essentially, there are four ways to vote,” Scheuerman said. “You can vote by mail, you can vote absentee, you can vote by early voting, and the final way to vote is of course on election day, Feb. 13.”
Despite concerns about the absence of early voting sites in specific areas, Epstein and Scheuerman emphasized that voters always have the option to cast their ballots on Election Day at their regular polling sites. In fact, Scheuerman added that despite only being required to have 11 voting sites by state law, for this special election there would actually be 27 sites throughout the 3rd Congressional District for voters.
Epstein clarified that the election process follows state law, whereby the governor has 60 days to set a special election after a vacancy occurs. In this case, early voting will take place from Feb. 3 through Feb. 11, spanning nine days.
Unlike other elections, this special election will only involve voting to fill the congressional seat in District 3.
Regarding the League of Women Voters' role, Epstein explained that the organization has been asked by the state to report results from various polling sites to the Associated Press. While specific details about the polling sites are yet to be disclosed, members of the league, including those in Epstein's district, will play a crucial role in this aspect.
As the special election unfolds, the League of Women Voters and the Board of Elections are dedicated to ensuring a smooth and accessible voting process for all voters in New York's 3rd Congressional District. Whether casting ballots in person during early voting or on Election Day, or opting for an absentee ballot, voters have options to make their voices heard in this crucial election.
Scheuerman also added that anyone interested in requesting an absentee ballot has to do so by Feb. 3. To do this, they can go to NassauVotes.com where they will find a link to the election information. By filling out a form an absentee ballot will be mailed to their home.
For further information, call the General Board of Elections at (516) 571-2411 or (516) 571-8683. These hotlines are available for individuals to check their eligibility, inquire about missing cards, or seek assistance. Voters can also reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.