Republicans Sue To Restrict Absentee Voting in New York

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sept. 27 eleven conservative plaintiffs — including the New York State Republican Party, the New York State Conservative Party and the Saratoga County Republican Party — filed a lawsuit in state court against the State Board of Elections, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and Democratic members of the New York Legislature challenging 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 allows people to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting an illness such as COVID-19. In addition to challenging these two laws, the plaintiffs ask the court to prohibit the State Board of Elections from accepting partially pre-filled out absentee ballot applications. The first law challenged by the Republicans, S.B. 1027-A, specifically allows for the canvassing and counting of absentee ballots on an expedited basis (every four days leading up to Election Day) and precludes courts from “uncounting” already counted ballots. The Republican plaintiffs argue that the challenged law violates the New York Constitution and that the Legislature “exceeded [its] authority” in enacting the statute, which “impermissibly opens the election process to the counting of invalid and improper votes, including fraudulent votes.” The plaintiffs also claim that the law violates their right to free speech since it does not give partisan watchers “meaningful participation in the canvass” by objecting to ballots that they deem “improper or illegal.” 

Regarding S.B. 7565-B — the law that permits people to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting an illness such as COVID-19 — the Republicans similarly allege that the statute violates the New York Constitution. The Republican plaintiffs request that the court declare both of the challenged laws unconstitutional. They express concerns about how these laws will “illicitly affect the election process by flooding the ballot boxes with illegal absentee ballots which will be counted before Election Day (every four days)” and will result “in instances where persons who were not true citizens of the State of New York and even dead persons had their votes canvassed and included with the votes of legitimate citizens who were qualified to vote and actually alive on the date of the…Election.” 

Read the complaint here.

Learn more about the case here.