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Register to vote by Oct. 8 to cast your ballot on Election Day, Nov. 2

Important dates for Dutchess County voters to know

DUTCHESS COUNTY — With just less than a month until the Tuesday, Nov. 2, election, ballots are already starting to come in, according to Democratic Commissioner Hannah Black, of the Dutchess County Board of Elections (BOE). The BOE maintains a site at www.elections.dutchessny.gov, which provides necessary forms and details about the voting process.

New voters may register in person by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, or with applications  postmarked by that deadline. 

Registrations and changes of address must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 13. 

Applications for absentee ballots submitted by mail, online portal, email or fax are due by Monday, Oct. 18. Monday, Nov. 1, is the last day to apply in person for an absentee ballot, with Nov. 2 being the last day to mail it; it must be received by the BOE by Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Black said COVID-19 may be used as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot again this year, but warned even if an absentee ballot was received for that or any other “temporary” cause last year, a new absentee ballot must be requested again this year. 

While there are not ballot drop boxes around the county, boxes will be located at all polling places and voters need not go through the entire line in order to deposit their ballot. 

If an absentee ballot is submitted, a voter may still change their mind and vote in person on Election Day. In that case, the absentee ballot will be voided in favor of the in-person vote. 

The election commissioner noted sometimes there might be a problem with an absentee ballot. If there is, the voter would receive a “cure letter” explaining how to fix the problem. 

If a voter doesn’t follow through to correct the issue, Black said, “then they run the risk of their absentee ballot not counting.” 

In addition to absentee voting, Black said, “early voting really helps as far as schedules go, so if people can take advantage of it, they should.” 

Regardless of where one resides, voters may vote at any of the five early voting Super Sites; the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Millbrook is the closest for Harlem Valley voters. Times and locations for all Super Sites are on the BOE website under “2021 General Election Early Voting Information.” Neither an appointment nor special registration is necessary.

Voters may check the BOE’s website to be sure that they are registered and should call the board if there is a problem. On Election Day, voters must cast their ballots at their designated polling place, based on their address and listed online under “Where to Vote.”

If one goes to the wrong voting site, find a poll inspector who will contact the BOE. The website does provide a listing of polling places.

Occasionally a provisional ballot will be used for voters who changed their address but didn’t register the change with the BOE by Oct. 13.

In-person voting begins on Election Day on Nov. 2 at 6 a.m. and runs through 9 p.m. Anyone in line by that time is allowed to vote. 

Black said the system works to protect the secrecy of the ballot and prevent double voting. Information on voters is transmitted to the BOE by a local computer pad.  

“We know when they check in. It shows that they voted already so they can’t vote twice,” said Black. “Afterwards, when all is said and done, we can’t go back and look to see how they voted. If they voted, their vote counts.” 

The names of all registered candidates are listed by town online through the BOE’s “Sample Ballots.” 

Black added the neutral BOE never posts specific information regarding the candidates or their positions on its website but said details are generally available online by using a search engine for either the candidate or his or her sponsoring political party.

Political parties listed on the ballots include traditional as well as newly-formed organizations, which earn their inclusion through petitions as do some candidates. Others arrive on the ballot by way of primaries, caucuses or party appointment. 

Voters also have the option of supporting candidates not listed on the ballot by using the write-in section of the form, which appears for each office. 

Black said that if a voter makes a spelling error, every effort is still made by BOE workers to decipher the name and count the vote.

Voters interested in knowing who is supporting a candidate financially may go to www.elections.ny.gov/campaignfinance.html. Black said, however, that if a contribution is $500 or less, it won’t be listed. 

Companies are allowed to contribute, as are nonprofits, if their charter permits such contributions. There are no residential restrictions. Donation limitations are listed on the county website. 

If anyone has a question or complaint, they may contact the BOE for more information or to file an official complaint. 

For more details or to submit forms, contact the Dutchess County Board of Elections by mail at 112 Delafield St., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601; call by phone at 845-486-2473, fax to 845-486-2483 or email to dutchesselections@dutchessny.gov.

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