Reviewing NY Absentee Ballots Before Election Night Upheld
The new law in New York State that allows absentee ballots to be reviewed before the polls close is being upheld by the Appeals Court.
The law has come under review following a challenge by Republicans and Conservatives who say the new pre-screening of paper ballots violated voters' constitutional rights to challenge ballots in courts before they are officially counted.
Allowing the Boards of Elections to get a jump on reviewing absentee ballots was touted as a way to avoid waiting weeks or even months if results are challenged.
Case in point: the 2020 race for Congressional District 22 in the Southern Tier. In that race, mistakes and challenges delayed Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) from being declared the winner by only 109 votes over incumbent, Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) until February, 2021.
The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court November 1 said it would would be "extremely disruptive" to change the rules with absentee voting already underway. Election day is next Tuesday, November 8.
The decision from the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court reverses a lower court ruling that declared New York's early review of absentee ballots unconstitutional.
Timing appears to have been the biggest enemy of the challenge with the court saying the Republican and Conservative party officials waited too long.
The decision from the court reads: “In our view, granting petitioners the requested relief during an ongoing election would be extremely disruptive and profoundly destabilizing and prejudicial to candidates, voters and the State and local Boards of Elections,”
In a prepared statement New York Attorney General Letitia James, who appealed the lower court ruling that the early review was unconstitutional said “We should be taking every step possible to empower voters and ease New Yorkers’ access to the polls,” “I was proud to defend New York’s absentee ballot reforms, and am happy with the decision to keep these commonsense election integrity initiatives in place.”
It was not clear if the plaintiffs would try to appeal to the state's highest court.
The court also upheld a pandemic-era law that allows voters worried about becoming ill to vote by absentee.