Queens lawmaker wants all voters to be able to vote from home during COVID-19 pandemic

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In an attempt to protect New Yorkers’ right to vote as well as their health during the coronavirus pandemic, state Senator Joseph Addabbo supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order related to the accessibility of absentee ballots. Addabbo has also become a co-sponsor on a piece of legislation aimed at expanding absentee voting.

Cuomo recently announced that New York’s presidential primary, which was originally scheduled for April 28, has been postponed to June 23 due to the COVID-19 crisis and that New York residents will be able to cast an absentee vote even if they don’t meet the usual requirements.

Under Cuomo’s executive order, residents wishing to vote via absentee ballots must apply for one by printing out the application, visiting their local Board of Elections office, calling 1-866-VOTE, or by mail. Once they receive their ballot, they must fill it out in blue or black ink and send it back to their Board of Elections.

The bill, which Addabbo co-sponsors, goes even further than Cuomo’s order by requiring that during a state of emergency, local boards of elections must mail an absentee ballot to every qualified voter at the address at which they are registered no later than 30 days before the scheduled election date. This removes the requirement of voters having to request an absentee ballot during a state of emergency.

“New Yorkers should not have to risk their health and the health of others in order to exercise their right to vote during a health crisis,” Addabbo said. “I am proud to be a co-sponsor on this bill that will help protect New Yorkers during the coronavirus pandemic, and any other unforeseen emergencies in the future that happen during an election year, which would prevent citizens from safely casting their votes at their regular polling places.”

Addabbo is also making efforts to ensure that no postage would be required on the absentee ballots to be mailed in by a voter.

“While Governor Cuomo’s executive order allows residents to vote by mail during this pandemic even if they do not meet the regular requirements, they are still responsible for requesting one, receiving it, and filling it out and mailing it back on time,” Addabbo said. “This new bill, if enacted, would require the Board of Elections to automatically send out absentee ballots to New Yorkers at their registered address when a state of emergency is declared in New York State, which will take some responsibility off of the voter.”

“This will have a major impact on young voters who may not know how to apply for an absentee ballot and the elderly voter who may not be able to request one,” he added. “I will continue to work to ensure all New Yorkers are protected and able to vote during this, and any other emergency situation.”

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