Lawsuit settled over absentee ballots with technical issues

YLEHQ NewYork

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many New Yorkers are anticipated to vote by absentee ballot in the upcoming general election due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A lawsuit was recently settled over what must be done when there is a technical issue with one of those absentee ballots.

In New York State, absentee ballots can become disqualified for various technical issues.

“Things like if you mark outside of the designated area, if you don’t fill out the ballot in black or blue ink, if you seal the inner envelope with tape, all of these things can get your ballot invalidated. And then, in addition to that, of course, if your signature doesn’t match what they have on file in the poll books your ballot can get invalidated,” said League of Women Voters of New York State Deputy Director Jennifer Wilson.

And, up until now, there wasn’t a process to notify those voters of issues. 

“New York State didn’t have any sort of procedure to allow voters to remedy those issues and didn’t even alert them if they had some sort of issue that was going to have their absentee ballot invalidated,” Wilson said.

But, due to the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters and a resident against state Board of Elections officials, there will be a mechanism in place to allow voters to remedy ballot issues. 

“In addition to throwing out all of those old small rules about marking outside the lines, not using black or blue ink, sealing with tape, we now will have a process where if there is an issue with your signature of your affirmation envelope, that inner envelope, or if there’s an issue with your witness declaration if you did have to provide a witness declaration signature, that you will be contacted within 48 hours and you’ll have between five and seven days to respond to any of those issues to say you are who you say you are, and to have your ballot counted,” Wilson said.

The League said, in the 2018 general election, more than 34,000 absentee ballots were discarded in New York accounting for about 14 percent of them. They hope the settlement will cut down the rate of rejection. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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