Common Cause/NY and Others Demand Lawmakers Protect Upcoming Elections

With less than two months until the June 23rd primary, the Let NY Vote coalition – a statewide network of over 175 member organizations – released the “Voter Protection Package:” a list of legislative priorities that will codify and strengthen Governor Cuomo’s executive orders. The coalition is calling on the Legislature to resume session remotely to pass these reforms immediately.

Both the Assembly and the Senate have passed resolutions and rules changes that will allow lawmakers to vote remotely on a limited or as needed basis, but neither house has specifically indicated exactly when session will resume.

“Lawmakers need to do their jobs and pass legislation to make sure New Yorkers can vote safely in June and November, secure in the knowledge that their vote will count. Our democracy depends on it,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

Let NY Vote is calling for four reforms (BELOW AND ATTACHED):

  • Codify the streamlining and expansion of absentee voting into law
  • Although Governor Cuomo correctly issued an executive order to expand absentee voting earlier this month, it does not replace the need for legislative action to codify these changes into law to protect voters in November and beyond.
  • Pass S8015A(Biaggi)/A10271(Blake) which allows for broadened absentee voting during a public health emergency.
  • Allow for the permanent electronic submission of an absentee ballot application.
  • Make it easier to receive and cast an absentee ballot, particularly for voters with disabilities who currently have very few options.
  • Provide voters with disabilities additional accommodations so they can vote absentee as needed (e.g large print or braille ballots).
  • Assure voters their absentee ballot is counted.
  • Clarify absentee ballots can only be challenged under a very limited set of reasons.
  • Double the days of early voting and expand early voting hours and locations to disperse in-person voters.
  • Other states, like Washington, give voters 18 days to cast their ballots early. With more time to vote and additional poll sites, voters will have more opportunities to cast their ballot safely.

“It is important that amid the COVID-19 pandemic New Yorkers feel safe while exercising their right to vote and have confidence that their vote will be counted. Ensuring our elections proceed smoothly will require strong, decisive action that builds on the Governor’s executive orders. We look forward to working with the Legislature to protect the right to vote in these difficult times,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union.

“Between the broad strokes of the important measures already taken by the Governor, the devil that threatens to undermine voting rights is found in the details, so getting this right is a must,” said Jarret Berg, Co-Founder of VoteEarlyNY. “There are plenty of 2020-ready improvements Albany can make now to reduce the remaining barriers for the extraordinary moment we are in.”

“This is an unprecedented crisis, and protecting our democracy has never been more critical,” Lauren Boc, Indivisible’s State Policy Manager, said. “Indivisibles across the state have been fighting hard for democracy this year and we look forward to working with the Legislature to enact these priorities and secure our elections in the face of Covid-19. Everything is on the line with the 2020 election, and that election must be safe and secure.”