Assemblyman Yuh-Line Niou on Monday called on the state to send every eligible voter in New York an absentee ballot application -- essentially creating a vote-by-mail system amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The hurdles would be clear for the state to overcome: Aside from the cost, New York boards of elections process only a handful of absentee ballot applications every election year.
But there are concerns surrounding in-person voting in 2020, a presidential election year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved the state's presidential primary and two special elections from April 28 to June 23 and this month ordered no-excuse absentee balloting be in effect for the primary.
Five states allow for voting by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. Other states allow for limited forms of voting by mail or no excuse absentee balloting.
New York's absentee ballot criteria as outlined by the state constitution is relatively constrained.
"As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote," Niou said in a statement. "We have to make sure that in our push to protect democracy and expand voting options, no one is left out. That our family, friends, and neighbors can exercise their right to have a say in our political system while protecting themselves from this pandemic. That's why I'm calling for us to go one step further and mail ballot applications to every eligible voter in the state. Now, more than ever, we need to fight for government accessibility and representation for our constituents to ensure all voices are heard."