Election FAQ answered before Election Day

Posted at 3:00 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 07:08:37-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Days into early voting and just days away from Election Day, the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team is digging into some election frequently asked questions.

Across the state, elections commissioners and poll workers are gearing up for what's expected to be an arduous few weeks-- or months ahead.

Even the act of voting can be difficult in some cases or disqualified in others, if it's not done properly.

When it comes to filling out your ballot, Niagara County Republican Election Commissioner Jennifer Sandonato says, you should use pen or pencil, but don't "x" through your vote. It won't count. The machine will recognize that, Sandonato said.

The ballot machine scans to make sure you've voted in each race.

"The machine does warn the voter before hitting that cast button," Sandonato said. "So it's up to them to either cast or return that ballot. As soon as you hit that green cast button, it goes right into the voting machine they do not get a chance to vote again."

It turns out, at least in Niagara County, if your name isn't on the rolls, you may still have a chance to have your voice heard.

"You can vote two ways if your name is not in the book," Democratic Commissioner Lora Allen said. "You can vote by affidavit or you can get a court order."

Wanna-be voters-- who never registered-- would have to plead their case in court, Allen said. A judge will decide then and there if you can cast a ballot.

"We always have a judge assigned to us," Allen said.

In 2016, the commissioners say a judge granted 110 people permission to vote.

"Typical answer from people is, 'I didn't know there was a deadline here in New York,' so the judge usually grants them permission to vote," Sandonato said.

The biggest race is for The White House. If you'd rather not vote for Donald Trump, Joe Biden or a third party candidate, you can write in your vote.

Spelling doesn't necessarily count. "It's basically the intent," said Erie County Democratic Election Commissioner Jeremy Zellner.

Bottom line, he says many people plan on voting this election cycle.

"We're more than 70,000 ballots mailed out and that's twice as many as we've ever had in our biggest election," Zellner said.

Poll workers will be making sure polling places are safe and efficient in this current COVID climate.