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NYS bills would allow voters to virtually track absentee ballots


ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — With the presidential election soon upon us, many politicians want to make the voting process easier and safer for United States voters and lawmakers in New York are no exception.

In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a series election reforms laws aimed at making it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted in November. Just last week, the governor follow up again and signed an executive order that requires county boards of election to take certain steps to “inform voters of upcoming deadlines, be prepared for upcoming elections and help ensure absentee ballots can be used in all elections.”

Now, other New York lawmakers are introducing two bill that will continue to strengthen the security of the absentee voting process.

The two bills — S8949 sponsored by Luis R. Sepúlveda (D) 32ND Senate District and A10724 sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D – Bronx) — currently in the legislature that would establish a secure website and mobile application that would allow voters to track their absentee ballot every step of the way.

Downstate lawmakers say Massachusetts, Iowa and Florida use an intelligent mail barcode. They want to see New York State have something similar after 80,000 ballots in New York City were deemed invalid due to technical flaws during the state’s June 2020 primary.

MORE | New York state launches absentee ballot request portal

Senator Sepulveda, said one-fifth of voters who voted by mail were disenfranchised. 

There have been attempts to pass this type of legislation every election year but have stalled. Lawmakers hope it’ll get passed this year since voters can now cite COVID-19 as a reason to vote by absentee ballot.

Statement from Assemblymember Dinowitz: 

“As we continue working to expand vote-by-mail options for New York’s voters, it is imperative that we have systems in place that ensure confidence and accountability between voters and Boards of Elections. This legislation creates a framework that, if in place for the June 23 primary we just experienced, would have alleviated significant voter stress and empowered them to make educated decisions about how to participate in our democracy. Instead, voters were left in the dark and forced to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot. That is unacceptable and we must take tangible steps to ensure that never happens again. Thank you to State Senator Comrie for introducing this legislation in the State Senate and I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this reform that will improve our voting process in New York State.

Currently the bills are being looked at in the rules and elections committee respectively. If it’s passed there, the legislature will vote. 

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