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New York to allow mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 concerns

The measures ensure any mail-in ballot postmarked on or before Election Day will be counted as long as they're received by the Elections Board by November 10. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The measures ensure any mail-in ballot postmarked on or before Election Day will be counted as long as they're received by the Elections Board by November 10. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 20 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a package of bills Thursday that expands mail-in voting for the November election, allowing more voters to submit ballots from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo said the legislation was important to ensure more people can protect their health while still participating in the Nov. 3 election.

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"The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation's history," he said. "These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November."

The package includes three new measures:

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-- Allowing anyone to request a mail-in ballot if they are concerned about contracting COVID-19. Existing law limited ballots to people absent from their county or unable to get to a polling location because of illness or disability.

-- Ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day are counted if they are received by Nov. 10. Those received up to one day after the election but without a postmark will also be counted.

-- Allowing mail-in ballots to be requested from the Board of Elections effective immediately.

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New York is one of multiple states changing elections guidelines and rules for mail-in voting amid the pandemic. Some lawmakers have sought to allow more people to vote by absentee ballot to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19 at polling places.

A Gallup poll released in April indicated that 70% of Americans favor allowing all registered voters to vote by mail.

President Donald Trump has long opposed mail-in voting, saying it's too vulnerable to fraud. A study by Stanford University's Democracy and Polarization Lab in April, though, found that mail-in voting doesn't favor one political party over another, nor does it invite more frequent incidents of fraud.

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