A new executive order from Governor Cuomo will allow New Yorkers to use COVID-19 as their excuse for using an absentee ballot for the November election.

There's a lot going on in preparation for the upcoming election in November. One thing that a lot of people have been wondering about is if it will be safe to vote in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you feel comfortable voting in person, that's great and as of the time this article was written, in-person voting is still planned for the November 2020 election in New York State. But if you don't want to vote in-person but still want to vote, New Yorkers are now able to use COVID-19 as a valid excuse for using a mail-in ballot.

In a press release, Governor Cuomo said "In line with the sweeping reforms we have implemented to make it easier for New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote, today we launch the online portal through which every registered voter concerned about COVID-19 can obtain an absentee ballot. Voting is the cornerstone of democracy and we want each and every voter to feel safe and secure in the exercise of voting."

Previously this year, it was not allowed to use COVID-19 as an excuse for a mail-in ballot. This was as recent August 17, 2020. But now, COVID-19 can now be used as a valid excuse to request a mail-in absentee ballot. There is even a portal that has been created to request a mail-in absentee ballot. Governor Cuomo also recently announced a public awareness campaign to ensure that  New Yorkers know all the ways they can vote this November, and know deadlines.

The New York State deadline to register online to vote is Friday, October 9, 2020. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. You have 53 days left to register to vote online, my bail, or in-person, the deadline is Friday, Oct. 9. There are 78 days left until Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. You cannot cast your ballot the same day that you register to vote. You can vote without a photo ID. The first day to vote early in-person is October 24, 2020, and the last day is November 1, 2020.

Valid excuses for mail-in voting are if you are absent from your county, or if a resident of New York City is absent from NYC on election day if you are unable to appear at poles due to a temporary or permanent illness or disability, if you are the primary caregiver of one or more person who is ill or physically disabled, if you are a resident or patient of a Veterans Health Administration Hospital, or if you are detained in jail awaiting Grand Jury action, or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony. COVID-19 can now be used as a valid excuse to request a mail-in absentee ballot, in addition to the above excuses.