assembly Bill A5276B
- In Committee
- On Floor Calendar
- Passed Senate
- Passed Assembly
- Delivered to Governor
- Signed by Governor
Simplifies the absentee ballot process to make it easier to vote in such manner by removing requirement for certain information on circumstances for the voter's absence.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To permit the simplification of
absentee ballot process by removing the requirement of certain
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The bill amends Section 8-400
subdivisions 1, 3 and 4 of the election law that sets forth the
information that qualified voters must provide in an absentee ballot
application. Pursuant to the bill, &qualified voter would be permitted
to vote by absentee ballot if he or she is:
*Absent from the county (or city) of his or her residence;
*Unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election
district in which he or she is a qualified voter because of illness or
disability or duties related to the care of one of more individuals
who are ill or physically disabled;
*An inmate or patient of a veterans administration hospital;
*Detained in jail awaiting action by a grand jury or awaiting trial,
or confined in jail or prison after a conviction for an offense other
than a felony, provided that he or she is qualified to vote in the
election district of his or her residence;
The applicant would have to provide, in the application for an
absentee ballot, his or her full name, residence address, and a
statement that the applicant is a registered voter. The applicant
would also be required to provide a statement, as appropriate, that on
the day of such election he or she expects in good faith to be absent
for any of the reasons stated in the above paragraph. The applicant
would be able to apply for an absentee ballot covering more than one
election, even if they occur in different calendar years, by providing
the beginning and end dates of the absence.
JUSTIFICATION: During January and February of 1993, the New York State
Board of Elections gathered testimony which addressed the complexity
of the voter registration form, the campaign finance disclosure form
and the absentee ballot application Form. One major complaint was that
voters were asked a series of lengthy questions that provided
information of little value to the Board of Elections. Article II,
section 2 of the New York State Constitution permits absentee voting
if the voter is absent from his or her county, ill or unable to appear
at the poll site because of illness or physically disabled. However,
the absentee ballot application contains a long list of required
information that goes far beyond questions regarding absence, illness
or physical disability.
Besides burdening the voter with a needlessly complex task, requiring
such detail could jeopardize his or her safety and privacy. For
example, the Election Law requires a person seeking an absentee ballot
based on illness or physical disability to identify his or her medical
practitioner and/or the hospital in which he or she are or expects to
be a patient.
When a voter will be out of the county of his or her residence, the
Election Law also specifies that applicants. must report the details
regarding employment or studies necessitating such absence, or the
beginning and end dates they will be on vacation and the name of his
or her employer, or the details necessitating such absence because the
voter is accompanying a spouse, child or parent.
Voters who have second residences or go on extended trips are also.
forced to apply for absentee ballots for each election, often
preventing their participation in elections that occur within weeks or
months of each other. This legislation would provide them with the
opportunity to apply for an absentee ballot for more than one
election. The New York state Constitution does not require the
disclosure of personal details and because the application is a public
document that anyone has access-to under the Freedom of Information
Act, this information could put a voter, or his or her property, as
risk. Moreover, the absentee ballot application is the equivalent of a
sworn statement and a voter's signature or mark should be sufficient
to satisfy the constitutional mandate.
This legislation provides for a streamlined absentee ballot
application process by allowing qualified voters to apply for absentee
ballots if they meet one of the criteria in the constitution without
invading the privacy of the voter.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.5453-A and S.5172 of 2007/2008 A.5748 of
2005/2006 A.6370 and S.4553 of 2003-2004 A.5768 and S.977 of 2001-2002
A.1966-B and S.1267-B of 1999-2000 A.6364 and S.3471 of 1997-1998
S.3052 of 1995-96 S.8125 of 1993-1994
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Costs associated with printing new forms.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
Open Legislation comments facilitate discussion of New York State legislation. All comments are subject to moderation. Comments deemed off-topic, commercial, campaign-related, self-promotional; or that contain profanity or hate speech; or that link to sites outside of the nysenate.gov domain are not permitted, and will not be published. Comment moderation is generally performed Monday through Friday.
By contributing or voting you agree to the Terms of Participation and verify you are over 13.