Every New Yorker is now entitled to get an absentee ballot for the November general election if they're concerned about the possibility of contracting coronavirus at a poll site, Governor Cuomo announced on Thursday.

Cuomo signed a bill allowing New Yorkers to request an absentee ballot as long as they check off "temporary illness or disability" on their absentee application, similar to the executive order he signed ahead of the June primary.

The bill opens the door for millions of registered voters across the state to apply and obtain an absentee ballot. At a hearing last week, state Board of Elections officials estimate that 5 million New Yorkers could be receiving an absentee ballot, representing four times the number requested during the June 23rd primary.

767,314 requested absentee ballots were mailed to New York City residents ahead of this year's primary in June, giving absentee ballots far greater weight than in the previous presidential primary, when 157,885 ballots were sent out.

But with more absentee ballots expected to be distributed for the November election, voters should not be surprised if the final outcome of tight races is not known for weeks or longer, as it was after the June primary.

Election officials say it will cost upwards of $50 million to carry out the pandemic-era general election, which involves opening up sites for early voting and hiring workers to count absentee ballots after the election is over. All 63 BOE offices across the state will be tasked to count all ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received within seven days after Election Day. All ballots without a postmark but received the day after the election will also be counted, according to the bill. This resolves an issue raised during the primary where absentee ballots mailed to the BOE were not postmarked by the United States Postal Service, invalidating them. A federal judge ordered boards of elections across the state to count those ballots without a postmark.

The news comes amid concerns from Democrats who believe President Donald Trump, who is on the ballot in November, is attempting to use the postal service to rig the election.

"The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation's history," said Cuomo. "These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November." 

To apply for an absentee ballot in New York City, go to the city Board of Elections website here.

Applications for an absentee ballot are due by October 27th. New York City residents can apply for an absentee ballot in person through November 2nd.