Gov. David Paterson has signed two bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, Westchester County, that simplify the absentee ballot application and provide additional ways voters can obtain the applications.
“Our American Democracy is based upon citizen participation in elections, and my goal is to help ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to participate,” Galef said. “We must make it easier for New Yorkers to vote. Modern technology provides additional opportunities for voting and the newly signed law that allows voters to fax a request for an absentee ballot is one such opportunity. The simplification of the absentee ballot application through the elimination of irrelevant and intrusive questions is another victory. These two voting reforms help remove any impediments to the voting process which has been one of my top priorities as a New York State legislator.”
One law, signed in late May, allows voters to obtain absentee ballot applications by fax or another written instrument in addition to the current means of getting them through the mail or in person at county boards of election. Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, sponsored the legislation in her house.
The second law, signed in late April, eliminates numerous questions on the absentee ballot “that bore little relevancy to the voting process and violated voter privacy in the application itself,” according to Galef. Voters will have to claim that they are unable to vote at their polling sites, but they no longer need to provide detailed answers as to why. The number and nature of questions asked “were intrusive to potential voters, frequently discouraging them from voting,” she said.
number and nature of the questions were intrusive to potential voters, frequently discouraging them from voting. The new law strikes those questions, guaranteeing voters their privacy with an added benefit of shortening the form, resulting in cost savings in paper and mailing.
“The Elections Committee has made common sense reforms a priority because, under no circumstance, should voters question their role in our democracy,” Senate Elections Committee Chairman Joseph Addabbo Jr., D-Queens, said in a statement. “Voters should not be intimidated by an unnecessarily complicated absentee ballot application, or afraid to exercise their right to vote because the application requires them to compromise their safety and security by disclosing when they will be away from their homes or too ill to leave them. This legislation will right that wrong.”