All Erie County voters receiving absentee ballot applications this week

May 12, 2020

The traditional march to the polls might wind up being a march to the post office in this COVID-19 year.

Across Erie County, nearly 380,000 people will be getting applications for an absentee ballot this week. That is every registered voter being given the opportunity to vote June 23, without leaving the house.

Avoiding the actual casting a ballot has been a hot topic during the national quarantine and in some states nearly all ballots are cast by mail. It is controversial because some people see widespread mail balloting as a fraud opportunity.

Credit Erie County Board of Elections

Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner said there are a lot of elections on the ballot that day.

"This is people who are eligible to vote in any of the elections that are taking place on the 23rd of June, which would be the New York 27th special election, the New York 27th Republican primary, the Democratic primary for the 149th, there's the Democratic primary for the 140th Assembly District and a smattering of other primaries that are happening in small parties," Zellner said.

There is also a Democratic presidential primary vote, which was canceled by the governor after Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled out of the race. The primary was put back on the ballot by a judge.

Zellner said the elections board would rather have absentee ballots requested on its website because it is simpler, but the mailed applications are required by law. He said he has no idea what mail ballots will mean to the amount of time needed to count the votes, because he doesn't know how many people will choose to vote by mail and how many choose to vote at their polling place.

"You may not have results for a couple of weeks," Zellner said. "We're not allowed to open them and count them until the polls are closed, and so we have to run all those through and we'd have to have our people checking things. And so with all paper, it would be challenging, but that could be a way we're headed. Right now, we're headed toward no-excuse absentee voting."