Assembly Passes Legislation Expanding Voters' Access to the Ballot in New York

Legislation Includes Constitutional Amendments to Allow No Excuse Absentee Ballots and Same Day Voter Registration

Speaker Carl Heastie and Election Law Committee Chair Latrice Walker today announced that the Assembly has passed legislation to expand access to absentee ballot voting in New York by removing the constitutional barrier to “no excuse” absentee ballots and allowing voters to request absentee ballots online. A second constitutional change would permit the Legislature to allow voters to register and vote on Election Day. These measures would make it easier for voters to register and cast their ballots. This is second passage for both constitutional amendments, in the next step in the process they will go before New York’s voters for approval.

“The Assembly Majority is committed to making it easier for voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Speaker Heastie said. “These bills will increase accessibility to the polls and continue some of the safety precautions we began taking during the pandemic. As we see states roll back access to voting, New York will fight to make sure every eligible voter is able to have their voice heard.”

“Voting is an integral part of ensuring a functioning democracy, and part of our civic duty as Americans,” said Assemblymember Walker. “The Assembly Majority will continue working to ensure every eligible voter has access to the ballot – whether in person or by absentee ballot – and is able to have their voice heard.”

The Assembly Majority today passed several bills that would reform the absentee ballot process in New York State and make it easier for New Yorkers to cast their ballots by mail. Under current New York State law, a voter must provide a specific reason for why they will not be able to vote in person in order to obtain an absentee ballot. A constitutional amendment passed today would eliminate that requirement, allowing for a “no excuse” absentee ballot (A.4431, Vanel).

“Over the last year, throughout the global health crisis, we saw how important voting by mail was to ensure voters could cast their ballots,” Assemblymember Clyde Vanel said. “This bill would remove requirements and barriers to receiving an absentee ballot and ensure that New York voters are able to vote.”

The Assembly also passed legislation that would allow voters to request absentee ballots electronically, increasing accessibility while maintaining the level of safety that is required due to the COVID-19 pandemic (A.6046, Bichotte Hermelyn). A third bill would make Election Day the last day an absentee ballot can be postmarked, consistent with the deadline for hand-delivered absentee ballots (A.6047-A, Bichotte Hermelyn). 

“These bills will make it easier for New Yorkers to vote using an absentee ballot,” Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said. “By allowing voters to use electronic means to request a ballot, and allowing ballots postmarked on Election Day to be counted, we will help ensure that all voters’ voices are heard and counted.”

A second constitutional amendment would eliminate the requirement that voters register to vote at least 10 days before an election. This constitutional change would allow the Legislature to authorize the registration of voters on Election Day (A.502, Carroll).

“This legislation will make it easier for eligible New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote here in New York,” Assemblymember Robert C. Carroll said. “We should be removing barriers to voting, not adding them like we are seeing in other parts of the country. This measure will increase voter participation and ensure every voter has their voice heard.”