State of New York

New York Absentee Voting Excuse Challenge

Cavalier v. Warren County Board of Elections

Lawsuit filed by the Schoharie County Republican Committee, a Republican assemblyman and two individuals against the Warren County Board of Elections, Broome County Board of Elections, Schoharie County Board of Elections and New York State Board of Elections challenging Senate Bill 7565, a New York law that allows people to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness such as COVID-19. The plaintiffs allege that the challenged law violates the New York Constitution and that their votes will be “diluted” by unlawfully cast absentee ballots if the law remains in place. In the complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the New York Constitution only permits voters to cast absentee ballots if they are “unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability,” but not if they are are concerned about a “risk of contracting or spreading a disease [like COVID-19] that may cause illness” as prescribed by S.B. 7565. The plaintiffs contend that the “risk” of contracting or spreading an illness is not a valid excuse for voters who seek to cast absentee ballots and ask the court to declare S.B. 7565 in violation of the state constitution. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) intervened in the lawsuit in support of the defendants.

On Sept. 19, a judge denied the plaintiffs’ request to invalidate S.B. 7565, holding that the law complied with the New York Constitution, and dismissed the lawsuit. On Oct. 7, the plaintiffs appealed this decision. On Nov. 1, the intermediate appellate court affirmed the dismissal.

Case Documents (Trial court)

Case Documents (appellate court)

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