Assembly Passes Legislation to Ensure New Yorkers Can Vote Absentee During Ongoing Pandemic

Speaker Carl Heastie, Election Law Committee Chair Latrice Walker and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz today announced the Assembly has passed legislation that would allow New Yorkers to vote by absentee ballot if there is a risk of contracting or spreading a disease, allowing people to safely vote during the ongoing pandemic (A.8432-A, Dinowitz).

“As we go into the third year of a global pandemic, we cannot ask New Yorkers to risk their health in order to vote,” Speaker Heastie said. “By extending this provision, we will allow New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote without worrying about exposing themselves, their loved ones and their community to COVID-19.”

“We have to make sure that every eligible New Yorker can easily exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Assemblymember Walker said. “That means allowing people to vote by absentee ballot, especially during the pandemic. I’m glad we’re extending this necessary protection through the 2022 elections.”

“It is unconscionable to force New Yorkers to choose between their health and their vote,” Assemblymember Dinowitz said. “COVID-19 is unfortunately still devastating our communities, and it is critical to our democracy that we take precautions that allow every registered voter in our state to safely cast their ballot in the upcoming elections.”

Today’s legislation would continue the expansion of reasons to request an absentee ballot to include the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and would be effective through the end of 2022. New York State law requires voters to provide a reason for requesting an absentee ballot, one of which is that they are unable to appear at the polling place due to illness, physical disability, or care-taking responsibilities for someone who is ill or disabled. In July of 2020, legislation passed to expand the definition of “illness” to include instances where a voter who is unable to appear personally at the polling place due to the risk of contracting or spreading a disease-causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public, this law expired December 31, 2021.