ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– New York State Supreme Court Judges in the Third Appellate Division voted unanimously to keep New York’s new election law in place. This means that the Board of Elections can continue to count absentee ballots as they come in.
“It essentially just speeds up the process and ensures that it’s just as accurate but we can get those results out to voters sooner,” explained Erica Smitka, Deputy Director of NY League of Women Voters.
The court also ruled that fear of COVID-19 is a valid excuse to vote absentee.
“One of the reasons that they gave is that the challengers just brought this case up a little bit too late,” said Smitka. “We are so close to Election Day and so many of these ballots and absentee ballots have already been counted. So many people have already applied using absentee ballots using COVID as an excuse, so it would have been really difficult and fairly confusing for voters and boards of elections to have that change days before the election.”
Paul DerOhannesian, who represented the minority Senate and Assembly leaders who were sued in this case, said the decision was a procedural one.
“The decision did not address any of the substantive issues or problems they may be associated with the absentee voting law,” said DerOhannesian. “The result is this law is in effect for this election and it shouldn’t have any impact for this election.”
Rich Amedure, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the legal battle might not be over just yet.
“We’re considering all possibilities including taking it to a higher court. Because once the election is over, it won’t matter anymore. They won’t be able to use that excuse, they will actually have to find the constitutionality of the law.”
The New York State Board of Elections reassured voters by releasing a statement that said,
“County board of elections will continue to canvas and count absentee ballots as they have been doing. The boards are reviewing for any possible cures. There is no impact to voters. They should remain confident that any legitimate absentee ballot will be counted. If a voter needs to vote by absentee ballot they can still apply in-person at the county board of elections up to and including November 7th.”