Lawsuit filed by multiple New York conservative plaintiffs (including the state Republican Party, the chairman of the state Republican Party, the New York State Conservative Party, the chairman of the state Conservative Party, the chairman of the Saratoga County Republican Party, county elections commissioners and other state and county Republicans) against the State Board of Elections, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and Democratic members of the New York Legislature challenging two absentee voting laws: Senate Bill 1027-A and Senate Bill 7565-B. S.B. 1027-A governs who is eligible to vote absentee and how absentee ballots are processed, while S.B. 7565-B permits people to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting an illness such as COVID-19. The plaintiffs argue that S.B. 1027-A , which allows for the expedited counting and canvassing of absentee ballots every four days leading up to Election Day, violates the New York Constitution because “the Legislature exceeded the authority granted to it.” Additionally, the plaintiffs claim that the law violates the plaintiffs’ right to free speech and “impermissibly opens the election process to the counting of invalid and improper votes, including fraudulent votes” since the law does not allow partisan watchers to “meaningful[lly] participate in the canvass” and precludes courts from “uncounting” already counted ballots. With regards to S.B. 7565-B, the plaintiffs contend that the New York Constitution does not provide a right to “vote by absentee ballot” and assert that the law’s permission of illness as an excuse to vote absentee violates the New York Constitution. Lastly, the plaintiffs request that the court prohibit the State Board of Elections from accepting partially pre-filled out absentee ballot applications. The plaintiffs ask the court to pause both of the challenged laws and declare them unconstitutional. A hearing was held on Oct. 12.
On Oct. 21, a judge granted the plaintiffs’ request to strike down S.B. 1027-A, which precludes legal challenges to already counted ballots and allows for absentee ballots to be counted on an expedited basis, for violating the New York Constitution. This means that courts will now be able to “uncount” previously counted ballots if they are successfully challenged in court and that absentee ballots will not be inspected and counted before Election Day. However, the judge denied the plaintiffs’ request to strike down S.B. 7565-B, meaning that New York voters will be permitted to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting an illness such as COVID-19. Multiple sets of state defendants appealed this decision. The Oct. 21 order was paused pending appeal on Oct. 25. On Nov. 1, an intermediate appellate court allowed the absentee excuse law and the absentee ballot counting and challenges law to stand and also dismissed the lawsuit.
Case Documents (trial court)
Case Documents (Appellate Court)