NEW YORK, NY (09/20/2023) (readMedia)-- Today, Governor Hochul signed a package of pro-voter measures including the New York Early Mail Voter Act which establishes a vote by mail system in New York and other Let New York Vote priorities including the Golden Day Bill, poll worker training and faithless electors.
Members of the Let New York Vote Coalition applauded Governor Hochul for signing the New York Early Mail Voter Act and other critical pieces of legislation:
"Common Cause/NY applauds Governor Hochul for signing this important, broad-ranging package of critical voter-friendly measures passed by the Legislature. We are particularly pleased to see the New York Early Mail Voter Act signed into law– a hugely important pro-voter reform that will establish an effective vote by mail system. We know vote by mail works: New York used it successfully in 2020 when faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a non-partisan, voting rights organization with decades of experience, Common Cause/NY knows that not only is this absolutely legal under our constitution, but the right thing to do," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
"The League applauds the Governor for signing into law this package of election-related bills. Easier access to voting provided by these bills is a right for all New Yorkers and will serve to strengthen our democracy. These new laws will help bring voting rights in New York State into the 21st century," said Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director of League of Women Voters of NYS.
Jarret Berg, Co-Founder and Voting Rights Counsel at Vote Early New York said: "With today's bold actions to modernize New York elections and safeguard voting rights, Governor Hochul and state lawmakers have placed New York firmly on the side of democracy and in a position of national leadership on voter access that will benefit all eligible voters across the state, and across the political spectrum."
"Today, Governor Hochul signed a broad legislative package that will strengthen access to the ballot for all New Yorkers and help solidify our state's position as a national leader on voting rights. The package includes the critical New York Early Mail Voter Act, which allows any registered voter in our state to request and cast an early mail ballot, benefiting individuals with disabilities, the elderly, busy professionals, parents and caregivers, and anyone seeking more flexibility to exercise their civic duty," said Stand Up America Executive Director Christina Harvey. "We thank Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature for taking this significant stride toward bolstering voter participation and strengthening our democracy."
"We commend Gov. Hochul for expanding vote by mail in New York, joining other leaders nationwide who are expanding safe and secure voting options even as others are attempting to restrict them." Christine Wood (she/hers), Co-Director, Declaration for American Democracy.
"Early mail voting is common sense and good policy. It makes it easier to vote, increases civic engagement and removes barriers to voting. At a time when anti-democratic forces around the nation are conspiring to restrict the freedom to vote, New York has stepped up and strengthened democracy," said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen.
"New York is taking important steps forward in modernizing our elections and improving access to the ballot, especially for those marginalized by our overly-bureaucratic and opaque procedures that have prevented too many-including those detained, the young, and people who cannot easily get to a poll site-from successfully registering and casting a ballot to have their voice heard in our communities," said Jan Combopiano, co-founder of Brooklyn Voters Alliance. "We are eagerly anticipating assisting in the successful implementation of these important reforms."
BACKGROUND ON LET NEW YORK VOTE PRIORITES:
The New York Early Mail Voter Act will set up a universal Voter by Mail system that would be available to any and all registered voters. Voters would request a mail ballot either online or through a paper application. The voter will be required to provide the information necessary to ensure that they are an eligible, registered voter. The application will allow the voter to request that they receive mail ballots for all elections that year. A voter can request a mail ballot up to and including 10 days before the election in which they want to vote by mail. The boards of elections must include a postage pre-paid return envelope with the mail ballot sent to the voter. The mail ballot must be mailed no later than election day and received by the board of elections no later than 7 days after election day.
New York is following the example of Pennsylvania & Massachusetts, which have recently adopted vote by mail systems that are different from their absentee voting system. Both states' constitutions have language that is virtually identical to the language in Article II, section 7 of New York's constitution that allows for vote by mail.
Taped absentee ballots ensure that absentee ballots may still be counted despite minor defects observed on the affirmation envelope.
Golden Day will make it clear so local BOEs have clear guidance for the upcoming elections allowing New Yorkers to register and vote at early voting poll sites on the first day of early voting.
Faithless Electors amends the election law to require electors to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidate who were nominated by the political party that nominated the presidential elector.
Poll worker training will create a more uniformed and mandatory training curriculum for poll workers.
Registration in jails will let formerly incarcerated folks know their voting rights once released from local jail.
Student Voter Registration & Pre-registration will require local boards of education, BOCES, charter schools and non public schools to adopt policies to promote student voter registration and pre-registration.
Deadlines for early voting polling location changes will establish that an early voting location site cannot change two days before early voting begins.
Presidential primary timing will set up primary election for April 2, 2024.