New laws ‘Will make it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted in November’
S.8015-D/A.10833 authorizes voters to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness, including COVID-19
S.8783A/A.10807 authorizes voters to request absentee ballots starting today
S.8799A/A.10808-A allows ballots to be postmarked on day of election, Nov. 3
Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed into law what his camp called “sweeping election reforms that will make it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted in November.” The three-part package includes new measures allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to the Board of Elections immediately, expanding the necessary protections to allow a voter to get an absentee ballot due to risk or fear of illness – including COVID-19 – and ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day or received by the Board of Elections without a postmark on the day after the election will be counted. Ballots with a postmark demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by Nov. 10.
"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," Cuomo said. "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."
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Voting access is one of the core foundations of our democracy. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that no New Yorkers feel pressured to put their health and well-being at risk to exercise their constitutional right to vote. I thank the bill sponsors for advancing this legislation, and my Senate Democratic Majority colleagues for their ongoing commitment to empower New York voters, and Gov. Cuomo for signing these bills."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Assembly Majority knows that democracy is best served when it is easier, not harder for Americans to vote. But the administration in Washington is once again proving that they do not value these critical democratic institutions, going as far as attacking the U.S. Postal Service to limit access to voting by mail. Here in New York, we will not stand for that. Earlier this year, we passed legislation to expand voters access to mail-in voting, and we will continue to fight to make it easier and safer for New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and protect the integrity of our elections."
Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests Due to Risk of Illness (S.8015-D/A.10833)
This legislation gives voters the right to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness to themselves or others.
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said, "COVID has upended every aspect of our lives – but we cannot allow it to undermine our democracy and New Yorkers' sacred right to vote. I introduced S8015D to ensure that no New Yorker will have to choose between their health and fulfilling their civic responsibility. Unfortunately, during the June election, too many New Yorkers had to make that very choice because they did not receive their ballots on time. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for signing my bill to provide every New Yorker with the assurance that they can vote via absentee ballot come November and to give the Board of Elections the time they need to prepare. I also want to extend my gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and my colleagues in the Legislature for their partnership and commitment to protecting our democracy."
Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests (S.8783A/A.10807)
This legislation authorizes voters to request absentee ballots immediately, 30 days before Election Day, adding almost seven weeks to the amount of time a voter has to vote by absentee ballot. This legislation eliminates an “outdated statutory provision that prevents voters from requesting absentee ballots until 30 days before Election Day. The legislation gives voters reassurance that they will receive and can cast their vote in a timely manner.”
State Sen. Zellnor Myrie said, "With an increasing number of voters planning to vote by absentee ballot this year, it is important to give local boards of election sufficient time to process applications and send out ballots, and maximize the time voters have to complete and return them. This legislation is part of our continued effort to expand access to voting, during the pandemic and beyond. Voters should have full confidence that, whether they use a mailbox or a ballot box, they can exercise their rights safely, securely and without obstacles."
Assemblymember Al Taylor said, "The COVID-19 health crisis has transformed life as we know it, including how we vote. This year we saw a tenfold increase in absentee ballot requests, with more people than ever choosing to vote by mail to protect the health of their families and community. With this new reality, we must ensure voters can exercise their rights in future elections both safely and efficiently, and that includes receiving absentee ballots in a timely fashion. I am honored to continue the fight to expand and protect voting rights in New York alongside my colleagues as we build upon the progress that's already been made while helping our neighbors stay safe. Thank you, Gov. Cuomo, for signing this bill into law."
Relating to Ballots Postmarked on Day of Election (S.8799A/A.10808-A)
This legislation allows ballots to be postmarked on the day of the election, Nov. 3. The legislation also amends election law to allow the Board of Elections to count all absentee ballots that have a time stamp showing it was delivered to the Board of Elections the day after the election, but does not have a dated postmark. The Board of Elections shall deem those ballots mailed in a timely fashion.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris said, "It's critical we learn the lessons of the primary election and ensure every valid vote counts in November. The bill being signed today will help insulate voters from problems caused by difficulties with the U.S. Postal Service. I'm grateful the governor is enacting it."
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte said, "The legislation the governor is signing today will ensure that New Yorkers' right to participate in the electoral process is protected. We saw unprecedented absentee voter turnout during the primary, but because of financial challenges at the United States Postal Service, many ballots did not receive timely postmarks. We must rise to the occasion and make sure that voters across the state can safely and effectively cast their votes. This legislation will help to address problems with the Post Office, by ensuring that absentee ballots that do not receive a postmark are considered timely if they are received by the Board of Elections the day after an election. This protects the integrity of votes and enfranchises the voter. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting New Yorkers by ensuring that their constitutional right to vote is protected."