ALBANY (TNS) — Democrats in the State Senate passed a package of election-related bills on Monday that could make it easier to request and count absentee ballots in New York.
The measures include legislation granting earlier access to mail-in ballots, a bill allowing for the expedited review and canvassing of absentee ballots as well as a potential Constitutional amendment allowing any New Yorker to vote via absentee without an excuse.
“Elections matter, voting matters, and leadership matters. We have seen how fundamental change can be achieved when people exercise their Constitutional right to vote,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said.
Since taking control of the Senate ahead of the 2019 session, Democrats have similarly passed election-related measures as the first order of business the past two years. The Dems now hold a supermajority in the upper chamber with 43 of the Senate’s 63 seats.
Good government groups and voter advocates applauded the new bills, noting that Dems are building upon recently enacted laws such as early voting, consolidating federal and state primaries and other pro-voter moves.
Other measures passed Monday include bills allowing election boards to use absentee ballot drop boxes and the creation of a statewide absentee ballot tracking system.
Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, the chair of the Senate Elections Committee, said the new measures, should they pass the Assembly, will go a long way toward combating voter disenfranchisement and ensuring votes are counted in a timely fashion.
“Over the past year, that’s become clearer than ever before,” Myrie said. “The legislation we passed today will ensure ballots are counted when a voters’ intent is clear, improve and simplify procedures for requesting and returning absentee ballots, and expedite the canvassing process that has often dragged on for weeks.”