New rule allows thousands of New Yorkers to cast ballots despite ‘no early voting’ law

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Election Day nationwide is Tuesday.

Thirty-four U.S. states, including New Jersey, have early voting, before Election Day. Connecticut is among the very few states that have no early voting.

However, recent state law changes have created a situation in the other state in the Tri-state, New York, that allows thousands of people to vote early, even though the Empire State does not officially allow any early voting.

What was visible at the polling place here, and elsewhere around the city, could be an indicator of conditions -- and maybe even outcomes -- on Tuesday.

The New York City Board of Elections office here was packed on Monday, with an all-day, endless stream of residents like Jasmin Castro.

She had an election ballot in her hand that she was about to fill out, when PIX11 News encountered her.

"Isn't that wonderful?" she exclaimed about voting a full 24 hours before some 2.2 million other New York City residents. Like Castro, Len Jones is among thousands of New Yorkers voting days ahead of Election Day.

"[You] get your ballot and you're out of here," Jones said. "It's gonna be a madhouse tomorrow."

In other words, he said, he was beating Tuesday's potentially big crowds by braving the crowd at the Board of Elections, or BOE, office who were voting on the eve of Election Day.

Even though thousands of people, at each of the main BOE offices in all five boroughs, voted in person last week and on Monday, the BOE executive director made one thing very clear: "New York does not have early voting," Michael Ryan said in an interview.

He went on to explain how so many New Yorkers were able to vote early, even though New York has no early voting.

"[The state government] recently relaxed, somewhat, the absentee ballot process," Ryan told PIX11 News. "Anyone who's not going to be in their precinct tomorrow can vote by absentee ballot."

In-person absentee voting is what the process is called. New York is now one of a half dozen states nationwide that allow it, provided the voter has a legitimate excuse for not being able to be at their voting precinct on Election Day.

Len Jones, for instance, will be out of town. Jasmin Castro is actually a poll worker who has to work on Election Day at a voting precinct that's not where she's registered to vote.

Nicole Padron is a college student who has exams on Tuesday, and her campus is far from her voting precinct. When she voted in-person absentee at the Bronx BOE office, she said, the line for registration confirmation there was so long and the demand for ballots was so great, that she was told it would take her close to an hour to be able to go through the whole process.

She didn't mind, she told PIX11 News, because of what the turnout implied. "The high influx of people," she said, "it's kind of exciting to know that so many people are voting today. I just hope it all works out in the end."

As for what effect in-person absentee voting has on the outcome of the election, that remains to be seen. New York City tends to be heavily Democratic. The Bronx is no exception. Staten Island polling, however, shows a significant Republican voter turnout there.

In the end, said Jasmin Castro, just before casting her in-person absentee ballot, "That's a secret," she said with a laugh, about her vote.

One thing that's not secret is the timing of the effect of the thousands of absentee votes like hers. They are not included in the Election Night tally of votes.

They still count, of course, but are not fully totaled until up to 13 days after the election.