White Plains, NY — It is exciting and uplifting to see the historic participation of voters this fall in Westchester and across the country.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans exercised their right to vote in unprecedented ways this year, including record early-voting and use of absentee ballots.

Some have tried to undermine the electoral process by casting doubts on these votes -- suggesting that early or absentee ballots may be invalid, fraudulent or left uncounted.

This is just plain wrong. These ballots represent legitimate, valid votes cast by your friends and neighbors exercising their rights as Americans.

While many individual voters may be experiencing early or absentee voting for the first time, these are not new procedures. New York law has regular provisions for handling and counting these votes and they are just important as votes those cast in person on Election Day.

But it's important to understand that the process for counting absentee ballots is different than the process for counting Election Day in-person votes. Also, these processes differ from state to state. Furthermore, the sheer number of absentee ballots cast his year mean that counting them will take some time. And yes, there may also be recounts and other legal steps involved. This is all part of the normal process of ensuring a complete and fair count. So be patient. Remain calm.

Under New York law, mailed-in absentee ballots may be received up to seven days after the election, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. So all absentee ballots will not even be in the hands of the Board of Elections until November 10.

Also, because in New York a voter may vote in person even after casting an absentee ballot -- an action which disqualifies the absentee ballot -- absentee ballots cannot be counted until after all in-person votes are cast. There's nothing new or different about this, this is long standing law and practice in our state and ensures that every vote, including those arriving right up through the November 10 deadline, is counted but also that no voters who may have cast ballots both by absentee and in person have their votes counted twice.

At the Board of Legislators, we know that these are anxious and difficult times, but we also know that Westchester residents, if they understand the process, will remain calm as the legitimate vote counting takes place. We stand with all elected officials and voters in insisting upon the full integrity of our electoral system.