Many of our part-time residents move away for the winter and forward mail to their winter homes. This may have resulted in removal from active local voter rolls.
This year, our federal primary in New York is scheduled for April 28. By law, the Board of Elections has to send out “verification of registration” cards, which cannot be forwarded. This must occur 65 to 70 days prior to the primary. Thus, the cards were sent out in January and February. That is when “snowbird” residents might be away and have temporarily changed their addresses.
The BOE is supposed to be notified of the change of address, but they may not have been advised that the change was temporary. The BOE may therefore assume that the voter has moved — and thus the voter is deleted from the active rolls.
It can happen that the U.S. Postal Service does not properly notify Suffolk County BOE on temporary changes of address. So, when a person tells the post office to “forward my mail to a temporary address for six months,” the USPS apparently tells the Suffolk BOE that the person has moved, ignoring the temporary status. Suffolk BOE gets a notice that the person has moved and therefore suspends the registration and sends a card to the voter asking for verification. If voter gets the card and returns it, he/she can preserve registration; but if the card gets lost, the voter is inactivated.
Voters deleted from the rolls can still vote by affidavit at their polling place on Election Day. But they will depend on the BOE accepting the affidavit, and, hopefully, their voter registration can be reactivated.
If voters want to get back on the active rolls before Election Day, there are two possibilities:
1) After the original verification card, the BOE sends out a second notice, which is forwardable, and it says that the BOE has been notified of the move. This second notice should include a self-addressed postcard where a voter may check a box noting that they haven’t moved. They can return the postcard and then be reactivated.
However, it is unclear whether all voters who may have temporarily moved have, in fact, been sent this “second chance” notice.
2) If a voter did not receive that notice, he or she can send in a new voter registration form by April 3 and be reactivated.
Voters may check to see if they are still on the active voter rolls by contacting the New York State Board of Elections: Voter Registration and Poll Site Search.
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