May 31, 2012

Assembly Passes Bill to Protect the
Rights of Active Duty Servicemembers

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Election Law Committee Chair Michael Cusick and bill sponsor Assemblyman Félix Ortiz announced today the recent passage of legislation (A.1450-A) that would ensure that absentee ballots cast by military personnel for an upcoming election would be counted even in the event of their death.

"Our servicemen and women make tremendous sacrifices serving our country every day and as such are entitled to have their votes counted while they are putting their lives on the line defending our nation," said Silver. "Through the approval of this bill, we honor their service and ensure that the votes they have cast prior to their ultimate sacrifice are counted."

Currently, any votes cast by an absentee or military ballot are not counted if the voter dies prior to the election. This practice is aimed at preventing voter fraud.

The provisions of this bill amend the military law and the election law to require that absentee or military ballots of any active duty servicemember be counted if such servicemember dies in a combat theater or combat zone of operations before the date of the election for which it was cast.

"All active duty servicemembers deserve the right to vote and to have their ballots count while away serving our country. If the ultimate unfortunate event occurs between the time they have cast a ballot and the time they lose their life, that ballot should be deemed valid and that is why we passed this important piece of legislation. It is our duty to honor our servicemen and women, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom our country enjoys," said Cusick.

"A loophole in the New York State Election law deprives our servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice their most fundamental right: the right to vote," said Ortiz. "This bill makes a necessary exemption to this important law and validates thier votes in light of their untimely death."