WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Nov. 1, a New York state court rejected two Republican lawsuits challenging two absentee voting laws. This means that Senate Bill 7565-B (“absentee excuse law”), which permits people to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting an illness such as COVID-19, and Senate Bill 1027-A (“absentee ballot counting and challenges law”), which allows for the counting and canvassing of absentee ballots on an expedited basis and prevents legal challenges to already counted ballots, remain in effect in New York. Today’s ruling by an intermediate appellate court comes after a trial court issued a ruling on Oct. 21 in Amedure v. New York that allowed the absentee excuse law to stand while striking down the absentee ballot counting and challenges law.
Following a hearing held earlier today, the court ruled that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the “petitioners delayed too long in bringing this proceeding.” Pointing to the laches doctrine — a legal principle stipulating that plaintiffs must make their legal claim within a reasonable time frame — the court pointed out that the challenged laws were initially enacted in 2020, yet this lawsuit was filed on Sept. 27, 2022. Pointing to “an affidavit from counsel for the Board of Elections” stating that “over 488,000 absentee ballots had been mailed and over 127,000 had been returned as of October 24, 2022,” the court concluded that “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.”
Cavalier v. Warren County Board of Elections, another Republican lawsuit challenging the absentee excuse law that was filed over the summer, was also dismissed today. Similarly pointing to the doctrine of laches, the court found that dismissal was appropriate given that the “plaintiffs’ delay in bringing this action has created substantial prejudice not only to defendants, who each play a role in the distribution and canvassing of absentee ballots, but to the voters of the state, and plaintiffs have offered no valid basis for this avoidable delay in commencing the action and pursuing the instant appeal.”
Today’s orders mean that both the absentee excuse law and absentee ballot counting and challenges law are in effect in New York, a win for voters who rely on absentee voting and for election officials who can process absentee ballots in an expedient manner.