Cuomo Signs Bill to Expand Absentee Voting in the State

August 20, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Aug. 20 to allow New Yorkers to vote by mail if they’re concerned about spreading or contracting the CCP virus.

“I just signed legislation to guarantee that New Yorkers can vote safely & that EVERY vote counts,” Cuomo, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “All voters can now request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about COVID.”

Cuomo said residents can now request absentee ballots starting Aug. 20.

“This legislation ensures that every vote counts,” he wrote, adding that state Board of Elections departments have to count “all ballots postmarked on or before Election Day [and] received within 7 days after Election Day,” and they must count “all ballots without a postmark received on Nov. 4,” which is the day after Election Day.

Previously, New York state law only provided absentee ballots to voters who were absent from their county or weren’t able to get to a polling site because of an illness, a physical disability, or if they are a caretaker.

“These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November,” Cuomo said in another statement.

The governor previously signed a measure allowing all New York residents to vote by mail in the primary election on June 23. He also cited concerns over COVID-19, which is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

The legislation also removes a statutory provision that prevents voters from getting absentee ballots until 30 days before Election Day.

State legislators said that removing certain requirements will provide voters, state election boards, and post offices more time to process ballots.

“With an increasing number of voters planning to vote by absentee ballot this year, it is important to give local boards of election sufficient time to process applications and send out ballots, and maximize the time voters have to complete and return them,” state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Democratic sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on the governor’s website.

Cuomo on Aug. 20 said that President Donald Trump’s attempt to change U.S. Postal Service operations was a reason for the signing of the bill and accused the president of “an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting.”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Aug. 18 that he will delay several reforms to the USPS after mostly Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about mail delivery. DeJoy is slated to testify in front of the Republican-controlled Senate on Aug. 21, and he will appear before the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee next week.