On August 20, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed three bills that will make absentee balloting widely available in the upcoming November elections.
The first new law—opposed by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms—will allow registered New York voters to request absentee ballots if they are concerned about contracting a communicable disease by voting in person. While NYCF understands the state’s concerns about the safety of in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that the use of masks, social distancing, and other common-sense precautions could address those concerns. Furthermore, the abysmal performance of the New York City Board of Elections during the June primaries has made it abundantly clear that New York City is not prepared to conduct an orderly election that features thousands more absentee ballots than usual. Still, there is now a state portal through which voters can request absentee ballots online.
The second new law gives voters seven additional weeks to cast absentee ballots, while the third allows absentee ballots to be counted (a) if they are postmarked on or before Election Day and are received within seven days after Election Day; or (b) if they lack dated postmarks but are delivered on the day after Election Day.
On August 24, Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order facilitating the absentee ballot process. Among other things, the order requires boards of elections to create user-friendly absentee ballot envelopes.