Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday, September 20th, approved a collection of bills known as the “New York Early Mail Voter Act.”
These laws seek to widen voting access for the residents of New York by permitting all registered voters to cast their votes early through mail-in ballots.
In addition to facilitating mail-in voting during the weeklong early voting period, the enacted laws will simplify the procedure for voters to obtain a ballot from the Board of Elections (BOE) and introduce a system that allows voters to monitor the status of their votes.
The legislation also permits same-day registration, starting from the initial day of early voting.
These permanent laws come from temporary alterations made for election proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, instead of navigating a complex procedure to acquire an absentee ballot, voters could effortlessly secure a “no-excuse” ballot from their local BOE office, enabling them to either mail in their votes or deposit them at a designated polling location.
Many of these provisional changes have been phased out, but this new legislative package solidifies the simplified mail-in voting process.
In a ceremony held at New York Law School to mark the signing of the new laws, Governor Hochul remarked, “It’s a great day to remind the world of what New York is all about, and who we are as a people.”
Emphasizing the essence of the legislation, she added, “This opportunity to sign a series of bills showcases our commitment to one basic principle: Democracy.”
This legislation received strong backing in June, passing the state legislature’s upper house with a 41-21 vote and garnering substantial support from Democratic members in the Assembly.
All electoral events from January 1, 2024, onwards will incorporate the “no-excuse” mail voting mechanism.
Highlighting the significance of the new laws, Hochul stated, “The right to vote is so sacrosanct…thousands of people have put on uniforms to defend that right.”
Hochul concluded by saying, “Never ever take for granted the ability that we have to walk in and vote for our leaders.”
New York Republicans, led by Representative Elise Stefanik, however, have initiated legal action to challenge and overturn the new voting law. According to them, Hochul disregards New York voters’ preferences by endorsing the bill.
In a statement, Stefanik expressed concerns about the security of mail-in voting, asserting that the new law violates constitutional principles.
She further alleged that this legislation offers an undue advantage to the Democratic Party, accusing them of “trying to destroy what is left of election integrity in New York.”
On the other hand, Democrats maintain that the legislation stands firm on constitutional grounds, highlighting that it sanctions mail-in voting solely for the early voting period and not on Election Day itself.