New York Appellate Court Rejects GOP Challenge to Mail-In Voting Expansion

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A New York court has once again rejected a Republican challenge to the state’s universal early mail-in voting law, which permits all voters to vote by mail during the early voting period. The court’s rejection of the case is a huge victory for New York voters as the law will remain in place for the state’s 2024 elections.

Today, in a unanimous decision, a state appellate court affirmed a lower court’s previous decision to dismiss a GOP-backed lawsuit to the New York Early Mail Voter Act.

Sponsored by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D) and signed into law in September 2023, the New York Early Mail Voter Act vastly expands mail-in voting across the Empire State. Prior to the law’s implementation, New Yorkers were only able to vote absentee if they were going to be absent from the county or New York City or they could not vote in person due to an illness or a physical disability. 

In response to the law’s enactment and furthering their relentless attacks on mail-in voting, the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Congressional Committee, New York Republican State Committee, Conservative Party of New York and other prominent Republicans such as Elise Stefanik, immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.    

The trial court dismissed the lawsuit in February after finding that Republicans “failed to meet their heavy burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Early Mail Voter Act is unconstitutional under the NY Constitution.” Republicans quickly appealed that decision to an appellate court, which also agreed that the case should be dismissed. 

“We conclude that universal mail-in voting does not violate article II of the NY Constitution and was properly implemented through legislative enactment,” today’s opinion reads. 

Ahead of oral argument in the state appellate court last week, Gianaris told Democracy Docket: “Voting is a fundamental right and the easier we make it to vote, the healthier our democracy will be. Unsurprisingly, this law is being opposed by the usual suspects: those who want to infringe on voters’ constitutional rights.”

As we approach the 2024 presidential election, Republicans have zeroed in on targeting mail-in voting in court. According to Democracy Docket’s database, the GOP and its affiliates are currently involved in 64 active lawsuits, 33 of which specifically target mail-in voting. 

This sweeping decision comes a little over a month before the state’s June 25 primary and one day after a different New York court largely rejected a separate GOP-backed challenge to the state’s 2021 absentee ballot counting law. 

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.