ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Election Day is fast approaching. New York voters have until Oct. 24 to request an absentee ballot online or by mail for November.
With more New Yorkers choosing to vote absentee, processing mail-in ballots has become a more significant part of Election Day than in previous years and more important to New York voters.
“It’s right in our constitution that we should have the right to absentee ballots,” said Barbara Grosh, president of the Rochester chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Grosh says that voting absentee became popular with New Yorkers after the 2020 election when the state lifted restrictions on absentee voting and allowed all New York residents to request an absentee ballot to help the spread of the pandemic.
“In COVID we found a third of people voted absentee, a third voted early and only a third of people wanted to go to the polling place on Election Day," said Grosh. "So New Yorkers are sold as both of those as ways to vote different from showing up on Election Day.”
It will continue to be an option for New York voters through the end of 2022 under a bill signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, giving more people access and the opportunity to be more informed about their vote.
“When you’re voting in your own home with your absentee ballot you can do research," Grosh said. "So yes I do think it motivated more people to vote and some people voted in a more informed way than they otherwise would have.”
The increase of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election created an unexpected cost of hiring temporary workers for many communities, along with lengthening the process of getting results.
Because of this, Kodak Alaris, a company specializing in hardware and software for digital imaging and information management, has created a mail-in ballot processing solution scanner in hopes to make the process easier and quicker for communities across the nation.
“You need a lot of people to sit there manually and process that," said Joseph Odore, Global US&C portfolio marketing manager. "With the vote by mail solution that we offer, you could load up the scanner and do up to a thousand ballots per hour."
The scanner processes mail-in ballots through a barcode located on the ballot. It can also detect signature discrepancies, helping to lower the risk of fraud.
“Not to mention there’s increased security and deeper integrity in the elections, right?" said Odore. "Less people handling paper ballots means less risk of something happening to those ballots.”
The company hopes the solution will ease the process of absentee voting across the country as more people are choosing to vote from home.
“New Yorkers like voting absentee," said Grosh. "So about a third of votes are now cast absentee."
For more information on absentee voting and this year's elections, click here.