NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With less than three weeks until the election, believe it or not, there are some pretty common mistakes that could delay your vote from being counted.

Absentee ballots are collected in Rockland County. (Credit: CBS2)

Absentee ballots are rolling into Rockland dropboxes. The idea — making sure your vote arrives on time and that it gets stamped.

“Without that stamp, we’re not sure when it got here,” said Kristen Zebrowski Staviski, Rockland co-election commissioner.

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In New Jersey, it’s mostly mail-in this year.

“We got our ballots in the mail in the last week in September,” said Andrew Friedman, of Bergen County.

Friedman sent in his ballot and decided to track its progress online — yes, you can do that — and in his case, he found out the true meaning of snail mail.

“We were now at two weeks and three days, and I was starting to get pretty nervous that it had been, I don’t know, lost somewhere,” Friedman told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.

The ballot finally arrived. The website says it’s overloaded, and it gets even slower when ballots are not filled out right — something you can easily avoid.

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“Sign and date, seal the inner envelope completely shut, make sure you either put stamps on there or you can drop it off,” said Jennifer Wilson, with the League of Women Voters.

Sounds simple, right? well, not exactly.

Across the U.S., missing or mismatched signatures doomed more than 150,000 ballots in 2016.

When they check your signature, they can get persnickety. For example, if your signature on record has a middle initial, you better not forget it.

“Don’t sign as if you’re at the grocery store signing the credit card pad. Sign how you would legally sign something, how you signed your driver’s license, how you signed back when you first registered to vote. It has to look how it looks in the poll book,” Wilson said.

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Here’s the good news — in New York, New Jersey and 18 other states, voters are notified if their ballots are rejected and can fix them.

“You will be contacted and given the opportunity to cure the deficiency with your signature,” Wilson said.

The League of Women Voters has an important warning if you want to early vote in person.

The period runs from Saturday, Oct. 24, to Sunday, Nov. 1. They say try to avoid the crowds on the weekends, and if you go during the weekend, avoid peak hours.


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