September 29th, 2023

House GOP Chairwoman Elise Stefanik and a Republican and Conservative coalition, have sued Gov. Kathy Hochul and the State of New York for “attempting to remove basic safeguards on absentee voting and allowing unregulated mass mail ballots,” a release from the congresswoman says.

“Kathy Hochul and extreme New York Democrats are trying to destroy what is left of election integrity in New York. Under Kathy Hochul’s failed leadership, elections are less secure and less transparent and will now be unconstitutional. As a New York voter, I am proud to lead this coalition in defending basic election integrity on behalf of all New Yorkers,” Stefanik an emailed press release.

On Sept. 20, Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package she says protects voting rights in New York State.

“This legislative package builds upon New York State’s ongoing efforts to improve and protect access to the ballot box for all New Yorkers, including last year’s enactment of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York, the most expansive state level voting rights act in the country,” a release from the governor’s office said.

“By safeguarding the integrity of our electoral process and ensuring equal access to the ballot box, we empower every New Yorker to have their voice heard,” Governor Hochul said. “New York State remains committed to strengthening our democratic process, championing the right to vote for every citizen and cementing our place as a national leader on voting rights.”

Stefanik says the legislation from New York Democrats allows for “no-excuse absentee voting.” She claims the constitution clearly reserves absentee voting for “voters who are physically absent from their county of residence, or sick,” and believes changing the voting practice requires a constitutional amendment.

Stefanik says a constitutional amendment to do so was put forward in 2021, but it was voted down.

“By ignoring the outcome of that referendum and trying to pass this law, Kathy Hochul and New York Democrats are ignoring the democratic process and undermining the state constitution,” Stefanik said in a prepared statement. “This unnecessary and overreaching proposed law would also create significant administrative obstacles for state election officials by enacting a huge procedural rule change just months before key New York elections.”

The legislative package recently passed in the New York package included a law that allows absentee ballots to be counted if they have been taped and show no signs of tampering.

It also creates a “Golden Day” on the first day of the early voting period when New Yorkers can register to vote and cast their ballots at their polling place all on the same day.

Another bill establishes a deadline for changing the location of a polling place for an early voting period.

The legislation establishes a system for early voting by mail.

This legislation will create a process allowing all eligible, registered New York State voters the opportunity to vote early by mail in advance of an election. A new application process will be developed to facilitate voter requests for early mail ballots pursuant to this legislation.

Voters will be able to request mail ballots up to ten days prior to the election in which they would like to vote early by mail; boards of election will then provide mail ballots with postage paid return envelopes to all eligible and registered voters.

Early mail ballots must then be mailed back to the appropriate board of elections no later than election day and must be received by the board no later than seven days after election day.

See the full story at North Country Now here.