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The Impact Of Voting Changes In 2020

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) - Close regional and local races may be delayed this year due to a higher number of absentee and mail-in ballots. 

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many states to change their policies on voting for the 2020 election. For example, New York expanded mail-in voting.

Though some results may be called Tuesday, it may be weeks before the results of other elections are finalized. In New York, votes do not have to be officially certified until Dec. 7. 

Election laws vary from state to state. Some states offer absentee or mail-in ballots for many reasons, and they start counting these votes weeks in advance. This means that they will have their results earlier.

In states where mail-in voting has historically been more restricted, like New Yorkand Pennsylvania, the state does not count mail-in ballots until election day.

“It is going to be important for voters to sort of dig in and understand the different election laws regulating their state, and then put whatever candidates say in that broader electoral context,” said Laurel Elder, Political Science Professor at Hartwick College.

Though changes in election policy were largely in response to the public health threats posed by the pandemic, Elder hopes that there will be lasting changes. She believes this election will be an opportunity to rethink the voting practices that shape our democracy. 

“In many ways I actually think that this election is going to be very positive for our democracy," Elder said. "We are seeing that states across the U.S. have made it easier for Americans to vote, and it looks like we are going to see record turnout.” 

Elder believes there is a possibility that New York voter laws may be updated going forward.

“I’ll really be interested to see if the 2020 election leads to new legislation in New York state and all across the country that makes voting easier and safer for all Americans even after hopefully the COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end.”