But each of those changes have also eaten up valuable time and money, election officials say.
“Everybody is swamped, everybody is overwhelmed,” said Vicky Olin, a Republican commissioner in Steuben County, in the state’s Southern Tier, and an officer with the state association of election commissioners. “And every executive order we get puts us probably another two weeks behind.”
The state received $20 million in federal funds that were earmarked for election-related costs driven up by the pandemic, through the federal CARES Act, though the Cuomo administration said that money had largely been spent. Mr. Cuomo has repeatedly pleaded for federal help for the state and its localities, though negotiations on additional coronavirus-related aid is stalled in Washington.
Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said he had offered extra staff — including National Guard troops — to all local boards, often without response.
“It’s a person-power function, staffing function — that’s the main factor in running the election for them,” Mr. Cuomo said last week. “We have personnel that we can make available, but they have to tell us what they need and they have to be organized.”
But some election officials acknowledged that they were uncertain how much this election year would cost.
“I’ll be candid: I don’t think my finance department has figured out what we spent yet,” said Kristen Z. Stavisky, the Democratic Party’s commissioner of elections in Rockland County, northwest of the city, noting the “astronomical” cost of postage of thousands of applications and postage-paid return ballots. “The CARES grant could never cover everything that we’re paying for.”
Nicholas LaLota, the G.O.P. commissioner in Suffolk County on Long Island, echoed that, estimating that the county would incur about $2 million in expenses in this year’s election, including spending some $150,000 on things like hand sanitizer and extra pens to keep polling places clean.