ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed election reforms into law Thursday in an effort to make it easier for New York residents to vote during the coronavirus pandemic if they feel unsafe going to the polls.
Lawmakers passed the bill last month, and voting rights groups have been calling on Cuomo to sign the legislation for weeks.
#BREAKING: I just signed legislation to guarantee that New Yorkers can vote safely & that EVERY vote counts.
All voters can now request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about COVID.
Voters can request absentee ballots starting TODAY.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 20, 2020
The following is included in the legislation:
- Absentee ballots can be requested immediately. Previously, ballots could only be requested within 30 days of the election.
- The reasons for voting via absentee ballot will now include risk or fear of contracting or spreading illness, including COVID-19.
- Ensures all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, or received by the board of elections without a postmark on the day after the election, will be counted.
- Ballots with a postmark on or before Election Day will be counted if received by Nov. 10.
"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,” said Cuomo. "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."
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
The governor allowed voters in the June primary to vote by absentee ballots due to fears of spreading the virus at polling sites. Election officials warn of an even bigger flood of mail-in votes in November than the June primary, which delayed results for six weeks.