ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10/WUTR/WFXV/WPNY)—In New York State, you can only vote by mail if you meet certain qualifications.
“We do require voters to have an excuse to vote via absentee ballot, and those include being absent from your county, or absent from New York City if you’re a resident of New York City. It also includes permanent or temporary illness or physical disability,” explained Jennifer Wilson, spokesperson for the New York State Board of Elections.
Other valid excuses include caring for someone with a permanent or temporary physical disability, if you’re in jail awaiting trial, or are in a veterans hospital.
A new bill introduced would allow people to vote early by mail without an excuse.
“We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for people to vote, because when it’s easier for people to vote, more people vote and that’s good for our Democracy,” said Michael Gianaris, Senate Deputy Leader. “Now one of the things we saw during COVID was that many people were anxious to vote by mail from their homes when given the opportunity, so we thought, why not make that the case all the time?”
Republican Senator George Borello says this is unconstitutional.
“You know what? If that’s what the people of New York State want, that’s one thing but it’s not,” said Borello. “These were constitutional amendments that were voted down overwhelmingly in 2021 to do exactly what this bill is going to do.”
“It was apart of a broader constitutional amendment that included many different pieces,” said Gianaris.” But most legal experts think there is a way to do this without amending the constitution, that’s why we put it in as a statutory change. The legislature is empowered in the constitution to determine the ways in which people can vote, particularly voting early.”
Senator Borello believes no excuse mail in ballots would further erode people’s confidence in secure elections.
The legislative session is scheduled to end June 8th.