A slate of left-leaning Assembly candidates have sent a letter to the legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo urging them to approve measures that will make it easier to vote in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The candidates want New York to mail absentee ballots directly to voters without first applying for one, expand early voting and in-person voting locations to ensure social distancing, and approve an automatic voter registration measure.
“New York State has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country,” the candidates wrote. “It’s no surprise that everyday people are disengaged from a system that favors entrenched incumbent politicians who only appear to be interested in getting reelected. But using a health crisis as a tool for backdoor disenfranchisement is beyond the pale.”
The state Board of Elections this month canceled the state’s Democratic presidential primary, which is technically uncontested, but Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is still seeking votes to have leverage in the upcoming Democratic convention.
The primary’s cancellation was overturned in federal court, but that is being appealed by elections officials.
At the same time, Cuomo ordered all eligible voters receive an absentee ballot application by mail ahead of the June 23 primary and special elections being held and, in essence, ordered no-excuse absentee voting.
Directly mailing voters ballots could likely run afoul of constitutional provisions for absentee voting.
The candidates signing on to the letter were: Jabari Brisport, Phara Souffrant Forrest, Emily Gallagher, Mary Jobaida, and Zohran Kwame Mamdani.