Military Absentee Ballots At Forefront Of New Legislation

A Legislative Column from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford)
March 2, 2011
Every voice in New York has the right to be heard; but for military personnel, getting their absentee ballots counted during special elections is difficult. In the past, a vote would be held within 30 to 40 days of proclamation from the governor for a special election. This process conflicted with federal regulations and prevented military absentee ballots from being counted sometimes. With the recently opened congressional seat in our state, the Assembly has made moves to improve the process.

Introduced to the legislature by the governor, Assembly Bill 5698 would increase the length of the special election process to 70 to 80 days. This would allow for county boards of election to have more time to send out, receive back, and count military votes. I applaud the governor for taking the initiative to improve the process of voting for those whose sacrifice secures such freedoms as well as my colleagues in the Assembly who have taken quick action to bring this bill to a vote.

While ensuring every military ballot is counted is a priority of mine, with the budget deadline looming less than one month away, I hope the governor and legislative leaders do not miss the opportunity to give all New Yorkers an on-time budget.

It took until the very end of last year to get the 2010 State Budget sorted out and with this yearís budget deadline, April 1, close at hand, the governor needs to keep moving forward to see it pass on time. Passing an on-time budget is vitally important to allowing New York to continue to provide programs and afford to meet payrolls across the state. I have been hired by the great people of the 115th district to see that their voice is heard in the state government and they want the budget passed on-time.

I urge the governor and legislative leaders to consider the implications on our economy, taxpayers and future of our state if the budget is not passed by April 1. It holds up the entire state waiting over the budget that allows for state services to continue uninterrupted. While I am excited to see the new governor take such initiative over increasing the voice of military personnel, the state has serious budget cuts to negotiate, hard choices to make to stave of bankruptcy, and the governor needs to keep that as a top priority as well.

Do you also support the governorís legislation protecting the votes of our military during special elections? How do you feel about the state budget? I encourage residents to e-mail me their ideas at or share them with me online at Facebook, or by contacting either my district or Albany offices.