NY Gov. Hochul Signs Absentee Ballot Law Despite Possible Legal Challenge

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a law Wednesday that will permit no-excuse absentee voting and expand early voting despite the state’s constitution possibly prohibiting the former.

The new legislation allows all registered voters to request an early mail-in ballot without any excuse while requiring the Board of Elections to create an online system where voters can track their early ballot applications.

The legislation, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, was passed in June by the Democrat-led state legislature.

New York GOP chairman Ed Cox slammed the legislation, calling it “unconstitutional.” (RELATED: USPS Faces Financial, Logistical Hurdles In Run Up To Expected Election Mail-In Ballot Surge)

“When Democrats can’t compete, they cheat. This is a blatant effort to consolidate total, one-party control at every level of government,” Cox said. “This legislation is a clear affront to the will of the voters who just two years ago resoundingly defeated a constitutional amendment to create ‘no-excuse absentee voting.'”

In 2021, New York voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have created a no-excuse absentee ballot system, with 55 percent voting against and 45 in favor.

Prior to Hochul’s signing, voters could only cast a mail-in ballot through the absentee ballot system. During the pandemic, the state made absentee ballots more widely available, but the temporary provisions expiring at the end of 2022.

The state constitution permits absentee voting only for “qualified voters who, on the occurrence of any election, may be absent from the county of their residence or, if residents of the city of New York, from the city, and qualified voters who, on the occurrence of any election, may be unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability.”