senate Bill S1989
(D) 38th Senate District
- In Committee
- On Floor Calendar
- Passed Senate
- Passed Assembly
- Delivered to Governor
- Signed/Vetoed by Governor
Requires county boards to create systems for processing electronic requests for absentee ballots.
TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the election law, in relation to requiring county boards to
create systems for processing electronic requests for absentee ballots
This bill modernizes election law by requiring boards of elections to
provide an electronic system for voters to apply for absentee ballots.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends paragraph (d) of subdivision 2 of section
8-400 of the election law, as separately amended by chapters 97 and
104 of the laws of 2010, to permit requests for an absentee ballot by
a communication other than a "letter," and replaces the signature
requirement with the requirement that applications be signed or
Section 2 of the bill amends section 8-400 of the election law to add
a subdivision (11), requiring county boards of elections to offer
voters a chance to apply for an absentee ballot by electronic form on
the board's website, submitted over a secure connection. It further
defines the requirements that such electronic systems should meet to
ensure election integrity, and requires boards of elections to notify
voters of an unsuccessful application. The new subdivision also
provides that the method of the application's communication should
affect neither the information requirements of the application, nor
be presumed to alter the constitutional or statutory requirements
that voters must meet before being issued an absentee ballot.
Section 3 of the bill provides for severability. Section 4 of the bill
establishes the effective date.
Under current New York law, voters can register to vote by absentee
ballot by obtaining a form, and mailing it to the board of elections.
Forms are generally available for download on the state board of
elections website, as well as many local board of elections' sites.
While this is a step forward, it should be the policy of New York to
provide voters who will be absent from the state on election day with
as many opportunities as possible to obtain and submit a valid
absentee ballot application.
Therefore, this bill would permit voters to request an absentee ballot
by completing a form provided on websites maintained by county boards
of elections. The bill also permits a voter to sign their absentee
ballot application electronically. E-signatures today see wide
implementation in electronic commerce, and New York law recognizes
their validity when parties seek to use them (N.Y. State Tech. Code
sections 303-309, 2009). Boards of elections are not required to use
New York's corresponding e-signature regulatory regime - they need
only implement reasonable guarantees of security - but may at their
Other jurisdictions have experimented with electronic requests for
absentee ballots. Delaware permits requests by electronic mail
(Delaware Code title 15, section 5503, 2009). Similarly, election
authorities in Maine have the option of accepting electronic
applications, which more than 180 cities and towns have already
implemented (Maine Revised Statutes, title 21A, section 753-A(6),
2009). Finally, the bill provides that it shall not be construed to
alter the requirements a voter must meet before being eligible for an
absentee ballot, or the content of the application. Only the method
of delivery is affected.
2011-2012 - S.5127 - Referred to Elections
2010: A.09385 (Kavanagh) - Election Law
FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE: None.
This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth days after it
shall have become a law.
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