Absentee Ballot Legislation Signed Into Law: A Victory for Voters

Access methods for absentee ballots added; Absentee ballot application process simplified
June 7, 2010

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s two Absentee Ballot bills (A.7347-B/S.4960-B and A.5276-B/S.2868-B) have been signed into law by Governor David Paterson (Chapters 97 and 63).

“Our American Democracy is based upon citizen participation in elections, and my goal is to help ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to participate,” said Assemblywoman Galef. “We must make it easier for New Yorkers to vote. Modern technology provides additional opportunities for voting and the newly signed law that allows voters to fax a request for an absentee ballot is one such opportunity. The simplification of the absentee ballot application through the elimination of irrelevant and intrusive questions is another victory. These two voting reforms help remove any impediments to the voting process which has been one of my top priorities as a New York State Legislator.”

On May 25, 2010, Governor Paterson signed Galef’s absentee ballot legislation that adds to the ways in which voters can obtain absentee ballot applications(A.7347-B/S.4960-B), sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger in the New York State Senate. Currently, voters are only able to obtain absentee ballot voter applications through regular mail or in person at their county board of elections office, often located far from their residences. This legislation will allow voters to request the absentee ballot application by fax or another written instrument. The addition of these two methods makes it more convenient for the voter.

"New York voters deserve a simple and easy way to request materials to participate in our democratic process," said Senator Krueger. "Voters will now be able to take advantage of more convenient, faster technologies including fax and email to request absentee ballots, which will encourage people to exercise their right to vote."

On April 28, 2010, Governor Paterson signed Galef’s absentee ballot legislation that simplifies the absentee ballot application (A.5276-B/S.2868-B), sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. in the New York State Senate. This new law eliminates numerous questions that bore little relevancy to the voting process and violated voter privacy in the application itself. Now voters will be required, in good faith, to claim that they are unable to vote at their designated polling sites, but no longer need to provide detailed answers as to why. The number and nature of the questions were intrusive to potential voters, frequently discouraging them from voting. The new law strikes those questions, guaranteeing voters their privacy with an added benefit of shortening the form, resulting in cost savings in paper and mailing.

“The Elections Committee has made common sense reforms a priority because, under no circumstance, should voters question their role in our democracy,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. “Voters should not be intimidated by an unnecessarily complicated absentee ballot application, or afraid to exercise their right to vote because the application requires them to compromise their safety and security by disclosing when they will be away from their homes or too ill to leave them. This legislation will right that wrong.”