A settlement reached by state officials and the League of Women Voters last week will expand options for absentee voting if there are technical issues with the ballot.
The agreement, reached by state elections officials, the state attorney general's office and the good-government organization, comes as a wave of absentee votes are expected to be cast in the general election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The settlement was the product of a lawsuit filed by the group and a voter, Carmelina Palmer, over how the state counts absentee ballots.
The agreement specifies how voters will be contacted if their ballot is rejected and how the problem can be fixed. And the state has expanded the voters who can benefit from that process, including other types of errors beyond their signature, including problems with their envelope.
The state will also for the first time provide a clear list of technical issues such as using a pencil or extraneous marks on the ballot that do not trigger ballot rejection and do not require any further action.
Absentee ballot rejection is not uncommon. More than 84,000 ballots in New York City alone were rejcted in the June primary elections.
New York lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year sought to expand absentee voting and make it easier to do so amid the heightened interest in obtaining an absentee ballot this election year.
“The right to vote by absentee ballot has been strengthened for all New Yorkers,” said Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New York State.
“Voters now have the opportunity to correct unintended mistakes made when completing and returning their absentee ballots. With new laws passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and now this settlement, a process has been established to ensure that voters’ ballot will not be rejected without their knowledge and ability to fix the error. This is a huge win for New York voters.”