NEW YORK – The New York State Elections Commissioner Association is calling for immediate action by the Governor and New York State Legislature to protect our electoral process during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elections boards throughout the state are risking personnel safety and health to prepare for impending elections on April 28th. We are facing critical shortages of inspectors and polling places due to the ongoing public health crisis. Over the next weeks, election boards will find it almost impossible to meet mission critical deadlines for testing machines and preparing ballots because of staff shortages due to the ongoing stay-at-home order. We ask Governor Andrew Cuomo, the speaker Heastie, and Leader Stewart Cousins to consider the following items either by Executive Order or Legislative action:
1.) Postponing the Democratic Presidential Primary scheduled for April 28th to June 23rd. Fielding inspectors in the midst of this health crisis is dangerous and may be impossible. Traditional polling places may be unusable as they are currently restricted or closed to the public. Postponing until June will not only give us time to plan, but will ease the burdens on host counties budgets that are devastated by the COVID-19 crisis.
2.) Amend 8-400 of NYS Election Law to allow for absentee balloting during all times of declared state of emergency due to infectious disease or pandemic. This will allow all voters who are at-risk but perhaps not yet sick to apply for and receive an absentee ballot. At risk or vulnerable citizens should not have to make decisions on whether to exercise their right to vote or risk their health.