Recent executive actions taken by New York government have altered both the voting process and the timing of various elections because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Executive Order 202.23 cancelled state legislative special elections that had been scheduled for June 23, 2020, as well as a special election for Queens Borough President. Later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo cancelled the special election for New York City Council District 37. After New York State Board of Elections cancelled New York’s Democratic presidential primary, a federal judge ordered that the primary take place on June 23, 2020. On May 6, 2020, the State of New York appealed the decision. Primary elections for State Senate and State Assembly remain scheduled for June 23, as does the special election in New York’s 27th Congressional District; New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation will provide an online voter guide for those races.
Executive Order 202.26 provides that absentee ballots will be mailed, upon request, to any New York voter who is eligible to vote in the upcoming June 23, 2020 elections. (This order modified language in Executive Order 202.23 that would have required absentee ballots for the June 23 elections to be mailed to all eligible voters, whether they requested them or not.) Postage-paid return envelopes shall be included. The purpose behind the order is to allow New York voters the option of protecting themselves against the coronavirus by using an absentee ballot instead of visiting the polls in person. At this writing, in-person voting remains available for the June 23 elections. The pertinent portion of the order reads as follows:
[Any] voter that is in active and/or inactive status and is eligible to vote in a primary or special election to be held on June 23, 2020 who requests an absentee ballot via telephone for the June 23 special election or primary election, shall be sent an absentee ballot with a postage paid return envelope; provided however each voter shall not be sent more than one ballot, and shall not be required to complete an application either prior to or simultaneously to receiving the ballot. Further, the board of elections receiving the telephone request shall maintain a record of such telephone request for an absentee ballot, and may complete the absentee ballot application as such record on behalf of the voter requesting the absentee ballot, provided that no ballot shall be deemed invalid for lack of a complete absentee ballot application for any reason.
Under Executive Order 202.26, most school district-related elections have been postponed from the third Tuesday in May to June 9, 2020. Those elections will be held by absentee ballot only. Absentee ballots with postage-paid return envelopes will be provided to all eligible voters. Elections relating to public libraries that are established or supported by school districts shall also be conducted via absentee ballot.
All village elections have been rescheduled to September 15, 2020. District elections such as fire district, library district, sewer district, and water district elections have also been rescheduled to September 15, 2020.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms PAC believes that the heavy use of absentee ballots creates administrative headaches and creates greater potential for voter fraud than the conventional voting process does. While we recognize the need for temporary measures that protect voter safety during the pandemic, we strongly oppose any effort to make absentee ballots universally available on a permanent basis.