O'Mara-sponsored legislation to strengthen military voting signed into law

Thomas F. O'Mara

Albany, N.Y., March 9—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law today legislation (S.3500) sponsored by State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats), chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, to ensure that special elections in New York State provide more time for military absentee ballots to be mailed and counted.

The occasion marks the first piece of legislation that O'Mara has sponsored as a member of the Senate that’s been signed into law.  Prior to his election to the Senate last November, O'Mara served as a state assemblyman for three consecutive terms beginning in 2004.

The new law becomes effective immediately and will be in place for a special election the governor also announced today to fill a vacancy in western New York’s 26th Congressional District.  The special election will be held on May 24th.

"I appreciate Governor Cuomo's leadership on this new law. It's a responsible measure that increases the fairness and accountability of our electoral process, and it's a tribute to New York's soldiers serving abroad in defense of our democracy and freedoms.  I'm proud that we've acted quickly to strengthen the opportunity for our servicemen and servicewomen to have their voices heard and votes counted in our special elections." 

Cuomo recently noted that existing state law failed to provide adequate time for state and county boards of elections to adhere to federal law requiring that elections officials finalize and transmit to military voters overseas the final ballot within 45 days of a special election.
He sent a proposal to change the law to both houses of the Legislature on February 23rd and urged its swift enactment.    The Senate unanimously approved the legislation last week.

Under prior state law, special elections were held between 30 and 40 days from their announcement by the governor.  The new law will more than double that timeframe to between 70 and 80 days and give county boards of elections adequate time prior to special elections for absentee ballots for military voters to be mailed and counted in compliance with federal law.

[Read Governor Cuomo's announcement]