New York has joined the growing number of U.S. states that are reexamining how they conduct elections. On Monday July 19 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of voting reforms intended to help voters, candidates and boards of elections “more easily perform their functions” according to a statement from the Governor’s office .
First in this series of new laws is the elimination of signed absentee ballot applications. This now allows absentee ballots to be requested by letter with the requirement that federal write-in absentee ballots, military ballots, special presidential ballots and special federal ballots received after Election Day contain a postmark dated Election Day or earlier. This legislation brings deadlines for the mailing of absentee ballot applications in line with United States Postal Service guidelines for the timely delivery of mail. Additionally, the law now law requires that voters be able to request those absentee ballots electronically.
The new legislation further requires that, if the location of a polling place has changed since the last election, the relevant board of elections must post a notice at the entrance to the old location providing the address of the new polling place. The notice must be posted on the day of the election or on the first day of early voting before the polls open. The new legislation also increases the maximum number of voters allowed in each election district from 1,150 to 2,000.
“During the past 16 months, numerous obstacles thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic imperiled one of our most basic and vital rights—the right to vote,” said Cuomo.“This sweeping, comprehensive package of legislation will make it easier for voters, candidates and boards of elections to perform their critical functions and keep our democracy running. Elections have enormous consequences for New Yorkers across the state, and these reforms will bolster their ability to use their voices at the ballot box.”