senate Bill S1989

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Requires county boards to create systems for processing electronic requests for absentee ballots

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to elections
Jan 09, 2013 referred to elections

Co-Sponsors

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S1989 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A3796
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Election Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง8-400, El L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S5127, A5895
2009-2010: A9385

S1989 - Bill Texts

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Requires county boards to create systems for processing electronic requests for absentee ballots.

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BILL NUMBER:S1989

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the election law, in relation to requiring county boards to
create systems for processing electronic requests for absentee ballots

PURPOSE:
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
certified.

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.

JUSTIFICATION:
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
discretion.

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.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-2012 - S.5127 - Referred to Elections
2010: A.09385 (Kavanagh) - Election Law

FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth days after it
shall have become a law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  1989

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. CARLUCCI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections

AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to requiring county boards
  to create systems for  processing  electronic  requests  for  absentee
  ballots

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. 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, is amended to read as follows:
  (d) The board of elections shall mail  an  absentee  ballot  to  every
qualified  voter otherwise eligible for such a ballot, who requests such
an absentee ballot from such board of elections in [writing in a letter,
telefax indicating the address, phone number and the telefax number from
which the writing is sent or other written instrument] A  COMMUNICATION,
which  is signed AND CERTIFIED by the voter and received by the board of
elections not earlier than the thirtieth day nor later than the  seventh
day  before  the  election  for  which the ballot is first requested and
which states the address where the voter is registered and  the  address
to which the ballot is to be mailed; provided, however, a military voter
may  request  a  military ballot or voter registration application or an
absentee ballot application in a letter as provided in subdivision three
of section 10-106 of this  chapter;  and  provided  further,  a  special
federal voter may request a special federal ballot or voter registration
application or an absentee ballot application in a letter as provided in
paragraph  d  of  subdivision one of section 11-202 of this chapter. The
board of elections shall enclose with such ballot a form of  application
for  absentee  ballot  if the applicant is registered with such board of
elections.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD03139-01-3

S. 1989                             2

  S 2. Section 8-400 of the election law is  amended  by  adding  a  new
subdivision 11 to read as follows:
  11.  (A)  THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OF EACH COUNTY SHALL ENACT PROCEDURES
AND REGULATIONS TO ENABLE VOTERS  TO  REQUEST  AND  APPLY  FOR  ABSENTEE
BALLOTS  BY  MEANS OF A FORM SUBMITTED OVER A SECURE INTERNET CONNECTION
THROUGH THE WEBSITE OF THE BOARD AND/OR THE COUNTY.
  (B) ANY ELECTRONIC REQUEST FOR AN ABSENTEE  BALLOT  SUBMITTED  THROUGH
SUCH  A  WEBSITE  SHALL  BE  DEEMED  TO CONSTITUTE AN APPLICATION FOR AN
ABSENTEE BALLOT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THIS SECTION,  PROVIDED  THAT  THE
ELECTRONIC FORM:
  (I) REQUESTS THE VOTER TO SUPPLY THAT INFORMATION REQUIRED BY SUBDIVI-
SION THREE OF THIS SECTION;
  (II)  CONTAINS  THE  LANGUAGE  REQUIRED  BY  SUBDIVISION  FIVE OF THIS
SECTION;
  (III) PROMPTS THE VOTER, UPON  COMPLETION,  TO  SUBMIT  AN  ELECTRONIC
SIGNATURE SUFFICIENT TO REASONABLY GUARANTEE THE VOTER'S IDENTITY;
  (IV)  INFORMS  THE VOTER THAT SUCH SIGNATURE HAS THE SAME LEGAL EFFECT
AS A SIGNATURE EXECUTED BY HAND; AND
  (V) DOES NOT PERMIT THE SUBMISSION OF  A  FORM  SO  INCOMPLETE  AS  TO
RENDER THE BOARD UNABLE TO PROCESS IT THROUGH ITS NORMAL PROCEDURES.
  (C)  IN  THE  CASE OF SUCH ELECTRONIC REQUESTS, THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS
SHALL PROVIDE TIMELY NOTIFICATION TO THE VOTER OF ANY  DEFECT  IN  THEIR
ELECTRONIC  APPLICATION.  SUCH  NOTIFICATION MAY BE SENT TO THE VOTER BY
ELECTRONIC MAIL.
  (D) NOTHING IN THIS PARAGRAPH SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO ALTER THE INFORMA-
TION REQUIRED ON AN ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION, OR THE  QUALIFICATIONS,
STATUTORY OR CONSTITUTIONAL, REQUIRED TO VOTE BY ABSENTEE BALLOT.
  S  3.  Severability.  If  any provision of this act or the application
thereof shall for any reason be  adjudged  by  any  court  of  competent
jurisdiction  to  be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the  controversy  in
which such judgment shall have been rendered.
  S 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after
it shall have become a law.

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