ELECTION NEWS: Absentee ballots available; offices and propositions up for election

Yates County Board of Elections
Early voters in Penn Yan numbered almost 400 on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 with the line stretching around the Yates County Office Building at 9 a.m. when the polls opened at the Board of Elections office.

The Yates County Board of Elections reports that they have started processing the 2021 general election. Ballots have been created based on a certified list of candidates, checked and double checked.

The State of New York has been sent certified copies of the ballots to be shown on the state website, as well as a certified list of all the candidates running in this year’s local elections.

Absentee Ballots

Democratic Election Commissioner Robert Brechko
Republican Election Commissioner Robert Schwarting

Election Commissioners Robert F. Brechko and Robert H. Schwarting are sending the  first batch of about 450 absentee ballots to those serving in the military, voters who are temporarily abroad, and those voters who have permanent authorization for an absentee ballot. The door is now open for others to request an absentee ballot.

Again this year, a voter may apply for an absentee ballot if they are sick or afraid of becoming sick with the COVID-19 virus or its variants. Last year, many individuals who had compromised health issues took advantage of this opportunity and voted in absentia. Other reasons for requesting an absentee ballot are absence from the county on Nov. 2, being confined to home (or in a nursing home) or caring for an individual who is confined at home.

Applications for an absentee ballot can be found at the Board of Elections. If a voter chooses, the ballot can be obtained at that moment, voted on the spot or taken home to complete. An application can be made through a portal on the State Board of Elections website: https://absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov/ The application is then forwarded to the local Board and an absentee ballot is sent to the voter within two business days.

Application forms to request a ballot can be downloaded from the State website: https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/voting/AbsenteeBallot-English.pdf or from the Yates County website at: https://www.yatescounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/753/Absentee-Ballot-Application-PDF . These forms must be completed, signed and mailed or taken to the Yates County Board of Elections, 417 Liberty St., Penn Yan, NY 14527. Mailed applications must be mailed no later than Oct. 18. Requesting ballots after that date must be made in person at the Board of Elections office.

The offices up for election

For Supreme Court judges, there will be opposing candidates; while the candidates for Yates County treasurer, district attorney and Ccoroner are unopposed. The Republicans and Democrats face off in the 1st and 3rd legislative districts (Italy, Middlesex, Jerusalem, and Milo), and there is no opposition to the candidates in Legislative Districts 2 and 4.

Local races at the town level elect supervisors, council members, town clerk/tax collectors, town jJustices and highway superintendents. In the Town of Torrey there are two contending for supervisor and in Starkey, two are contending for town justice. Elsewhere, the Democrats, Republicans and a few Independent candidates face off for seats on the town councils. Those town clerks who are running find themselves unopposed.

Commissioners and board staff are concerned that many voters will stay home and not take the effort to get an absentee ballot or go to a poll site on Election Day. According to Commissioners Schwarting and Brechko, “Yates County operates one of the most error-free elections in the state and the staff here is highly dedicated to their voters.” They add, “Our Election Inspectors at the 11 poll sites and the Early Voting site at the County Office Building are saddened whenever there is low turnout.”

Any resident, U.S. citizen who is 18 or older is eligible to vote and has the right to enroll as a voter in the county. Enrollment can be accomplished with forms found in various public offices, at the Board or online at either the County or State Elections websites. Most new voters are enrolling when they visit the State or Yates County Department of Motor Vehicle offices (DMV). If you are not currently registered to vote, you must register no later than Oct. 8 in order to be able to vote in the November election.

Propositions on the ballot


The purpose of this proposal is to amend the portions of Article 3 of the New York Constitution that relate to the way district lines for congressional and state legislative offices are determined.

The proposal would do the following:

• Amend and repeal portions of the state constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2014 that created a redistricting commission.

• Allow the redistricting commission to appoint two co-executive directors by simple majority vote, without consideration as to the party affiliation of the individual being appointed. Furthermore, this amendment would eliminate the alternative process currently in place that allows for the appointment of co-executive directors and co-deputy executive directors by the legislature should the redistricting commission fail to appoint co-executive directors and remove the requirement that the two co-executive directors of the redistricting commission be members of different political parties.

• Freeze the number of state senators at the current number of 63. Currently, under the state constitution, the number of senators was originally set at 50 and thereafter increased over time to 63.

• Require that state assembly and senate district lines be based on the total population of the state, and require the state to count all residents, including non-citizens and Native Americans if the federal census fails to include them.

• Provide for incarcerated people to be counted at their place of last residence, instead of at their place of incarceration, for the purpose of redistricting. This practice is already established by state statute for Senate and Assembly districts.

• Revise the procedure for drawing and approving Congressional and state legislative districts scheduled to be first applied in 2022. The proposed amendment would alter the redistricting procedure in the following ways:

Change the redistricting map approval procedures for the redistricting commission and legislature by making changes to the voting thresholds needed to approve/adopt a plan. Under this proposal:

§ Approval of a plan by the redistricting commission would require at least seven votes, out of the ten commissioners, in favor thereof. There would no longer be a requirement that at least one commissioner appointed by each of the legislative leaders vote in favor of a plan in order to approve it. A plan approved by at least seven commissioners must be approved by a majority of each house of the legislature to be approved.

§ However, in the event that the redistricting commission votes on but does not have the seven votes needed to approve a plan, the commission is required to send the legislature the redistricting plan or plans that garnered the most votes. The legislature would be able to adopt such plan with a 60% majority. This amendment would repeal the requirement that in the event the speaker of the assembly and the temporary president of the senate are members of the same political party, approval shall require the vote in support of its passage by at least two thirds of the members elected in each house. If the commission fails to vote on any plan or plans by the deadline, all plans, including draft plans in the commission’s possession are sent to the legislature, and each house of the legislature can introduce and adopt such a plan with or without amendments.

§ The redistricting commission voting requirements and legislative vote thresholds for approving the commission’s plan would no longer vary depending on the political affiliation of the Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly.

§ Require the redistricting commission that draws the lines to submit its redistricting plan and implementing legislation to the Legislature two months earlier than called for under the current procedure the timeline set forth in the 2014 state constitutional amendment. (For the redistricting cycle due to proceed in 2022, the time frame would be condensed to meet election-related deadlines).

• Remove certain restrictions on how Senate district lines are drawn, including the “block on border” rule that require placing of blocks on the border of districts in certain districts.

• Delete certain provisions that the United States Supreme Court has deemed unconstitutional.


The purpose of this proposal is to protect public health and the environment by adding the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment to the Bill of Rights in Article I of the New York Constitution.


Section 5 of Article II of the New York Constitution now requires that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election. The proposed amendment would delete that requirement. If this amendment is adopted, the Legislature will be authorized to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than ten days before the election.


The purpose of this proposal is to eliminate the requirement that a voter provide a reason for voting by absentee ballot. The proposed amendment would do so by deleting the requirement currently in the Constitution that restricts absentee voting to people under one of two specific circumstances: (1) those who expect to be absent from the county of their residence, or from New York City for residents of that city, on Election Day, and (2) those who are unable to appear at their polling place because of illness or physical disability.


The purpose of this proposal is to amend Article VI, Section 15 of the New York Constitution to increase the jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court. The New York City Civil Court is currently limited to hearing and deciding claims for $25,000 or less. The proposed amendment would allow the New York City Civil Court to hear and decide claims for $50,000 or less.

For additional information please visit the New York State Board of Elections' website at: www.elections.ny.gov

Absentee ballot changes

Due to recent changes to Election Law please note the following absentee ballot changes:

Oct. 18 -- Last day for board of elections to receive application or letter of application by mail, online portal, email or fax for general election ballot. §8-400(2)(c)

Nov. 1 -- Last day to apply in person at the board of elections office for a general election absentee ballot. §8-400(2)(c)

Nov. 2 -- Last day to postmark general election ballot. Must be received by the county board no later than Nov. 9th. §8-412(1)

Nov. 2 -- Last day to deliver general election ballot in person to your county board or any poll site in your county, by close of polls on election day. §8-412(1)