Simplifies the absentee ballot process to make it easier to vote in such manner by removing requirement for certain information on circumstances for the voter's absence.
Ayes (35): Adams, Addabbo, Aubertine, Breslin, Diaz, Dilan, Duane, Espada, Foley, Fuschillo, Hassell-Thomps, Huntley, Johnson C, Klein, Krueger, Kruger, Little, Montgomery, Morahan, Onorato, Oppenheimer, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Sampson, Savino, Schneiderman, Serrano, Smith, Squadron, Stachowski, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Thompson, Valesky
Nays (27): Alesi, Bonacic, DeFrancisco, Farley, Flanagan, Golden, Griffo, Hannon, Johnson O, Lanza, Larkin, LaValle, Leibell, Libous, Marcellino, Maziarz, McDonald, Nozzolio, Padavan, Ranzenhofer, Robach, Saland, Seward, Skelos, Volker, Winner, Young
BILL NUMBER:A5276B REVISED 1/20/10
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to absentee ballots
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To permit the simplification of absentee ballot process by removing the requirement of certain information
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The bill amends Section 8-400 subdivisions 1, 3 and 4 of the election law that sets forth the information that qualified voters must provide in an absentee ballot application. Pursuant to the bill, &qualified voter would be permitted to vote by absentee ballot if he or she is:
*Absent from the county (or city) of his or her residence;
*Unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election district in which he or she is a qualified voter because of illness or disability or duties related to the care of one of more individuals who are ill or physically disabled;
*An inmate or patient of a veterans administration hospital;
*Detained in jail awaiting action by a grand jury or awaiting trial, or confined in jail or prison after a conviction for an offense other than a felony, provided that he or she is qualified to vote in the election district of his or her residence;
The applicant would have to provide, in the application for an absentee ballot, his or her full name, residence address, and a statement that the applicant is a registered voter. The applicant would also be required to provide a statement, as appropriate, that on the day of such election he or she expects in good faith to be absent for any of the reasons stated in the above paragraph. The applicant would be able to apply for an absentee ballot covering more than one election, even if they occur in different calendar years, by providing the beginning and end dates of the absence.
JUSTIFICATION: During January and February of 1993, the New York State Board of Elections gathered testimony which addressed the complexity of the voter registration form, the campaign finance disclosure form and the absentee ballot application Form. One major complaint was that voters were asked a series of lengthy questions that provided information of little value to the Board of Elections. Article II, section 2 of the New York State Constitution permits absentee voting if the voter is absent from his or her county, ill or unable to appear at the poll site because of illness or physically disabled. However, the absentee ballot application contains a long list of required information that goes far beyond questions regarding absence, illness or physical disability.
Besides burdening the voter with a needlessly complex task, requiring such detail could jeopardize his or her safety and privacy. For example, the Election Law requires a person seeking an absentee ballot based on illness or physical disability to identify his or her medical
practitioner and/or the hospital in which he or she are or expects to be a patient.
When a voter will be out of the county of his or her residence, the Election Law also specifies that applicants. must report the details regarding employment or studies necessitating such absence, or the beginning and end dates they will be on vacation and the name of his or her employer, or the details necessitating such absence because the voter is accompanying a spouse, child or parent.
Voters who have second residences or go on extended trips are also. forced to apply for absentee ballots for each election, often preventing their participation in elections that occur within weeks or months of each other. This legislation would provide them with the opportunity to apply for an absentee ballot for more than one election. The New York state Constitution does not require the disclosure of personal details and because the application is a public document that anyone has access-to under the Freedom of Information Act, this information could put a voter, or his or her property, as risk. Moreover, the absentee ballot application is the equivalent of a sworn statement and a voter's signature or mark should be sufficient to satisfy the constitutional mandate.
This legislation provides for a streamlined absentee ballot application process by allowing qualified voters to apply for absentee ballots if they meet one of the criteria in the constitution without invading the privacy of the voter.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.5453-A and S.5172 of 2007/2008 A.5748 of 2005/2006 A.6370 and S.4553 of 2003-2004 A.5768 and S.977 of 2001-2002 A.1966-B and S.1267-B of 1999-2000 A.6364 and S.3471 of 1997-1998 S.3052 of 1995-96 S.8125 of 1993-1994
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Costs associated with printing new forms.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5276--B Cal. No. 370 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN ASSEMBLY February 11, 2009 ___________Introduced by M. of A. GALEF, HOYT, KAVANAGH, DINOWITZ, THIELE, BRENNAN, ENGLEBRIGHT, MAGNARELLI, PEOPLES-STOKES, PAULIN, PHEFFER, SCHIMEL, JAFFEE, REILLY, KOLB, DelMONTE, ROSENTHAL, ALFANO, GORDON, ZEBROWSKI, ESPAILLAT -- Multi-Sponsored by -- M. of A. BARRA, BOYLAND, BURLING, CAHILL, CALHOUN, CLARK, COLTON, CONTE, CORWIN, DenDEKKER, DUPREY, ERRIGO, FIELDS, FINCH, GIGLIO, GOTTFRIED, GUNTHER, LIFTON, LUPARDO, MAGEE, MAYERSOHN, McDONOUGH, McENENY, J. MILLER, MOLINARO, POWELL, P. RIVERA, ROBINSON, SCARBOROUGH, SPANO, SWEENEY, WEINSTEIN, WEISEN- BERG -- read once and referred to the Committee on Election Law -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- reported from committee, advanced to a third reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its place on the order of third reading AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to absentee ballots THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivisions 1, 3 and 4 of section 8-400 of the election law, the opening paragraph of subdivision 1 as amended by chapter 359 of the laws of 1989, paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 as amended by chapter 426 of the laws of 2009, subparagraph (i) of paragraph (c) of subdivi- sion 3 as amended by chapter 234 of the laws of 1976, subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (c) of subdivision 3 as amended by chapter 426 of the laws of 2009, paragraph (d) of subdivision 3 as added by chapter 373 of the laws of 1986, subdivision 4 as amended by chapter 163 of the laws of 1985, are amended to read as follows: 1. A qualified voter may vote as an absentee voter under this chapter if, on the occurrence of any village election conducted by the board of elections, primary election, special election, general election or New York city community school board district or city of Buffalo school district election, he
[will]OR SHE EXPECTS TO be:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01665-07-0 A. 5276--B 2
[unavoidably]absent from the county of his OR HER residence, or, if a resident of the city of New York absent from said city [, because his duties, occupation, business, or studies require him to be elsewhere on the day of election]; or (b) [absent from such county or city because he is on vacation else- where on the day of election; or (c)]unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election district in which he or she is a qualified voter because of illness or physical disability [, whether permanent or temporary,]or duties related to the primary care of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled, or because he or she will be or is a patient in a hospital; or [(d) he is a person entitled to a ballot because he is a qualified voter registered as](C) an inmate or patient of a veteran's adminis- tration hospital; or [(e) absent from the county of his residence, or if a resident of the city of New York, absent from said city, because of his accompanying a spouse, parent or child who would be entitled to apply for the right to vote by absentee ballot if a qualified voter; or (f)](D) absent from his OR HER voting residence because he OR SHE is detained in jail awaiting action by a grand jury or awaiting trial, or confined in JAIL OR prison after a conviction for an offense other than a felony, provided that he OR SHE is qualified to vote in the election district of his OR HER residence. 3. The application for an absentee ballot when filed must contain in each instance the following information: (a) Applicant's full name, DATE OF BIRTH, and residence address, including the street and number, if any, rural delivery route, if any, mailing address if different from the residence address and his OR HER town or city and an address to which the ballot shall be mailed. (b) A statement that the applicant is a qualified and registered voter [, and that he does not know of any reason why he is no longer qualified to vote]. (c) A statement, as appropriate, that on the day of such election the applicant expects in good faith to be in one of the following catego- ries: (i) [unavoidably]absent from the county of his OR HER residence, or if a resident of the city of New York absent from said city [, because his duties, occupation, business or studies require him to be elsewhere on such day, and where such duties, occupation, business or studies are not of such a nature as ordinarily to require such absence, a statement briefly describing the special circumstances requiring such absence and]; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, IF THE APPLICANT EXPECTS TO BE ABSENT FROM SUCH COUNTY OR CITY FOR A DURATION COVERING MORE THAN ONE ELECTION AND SEEKS AN ABSENTEE BALLOT FOR EACH ELECTION, HE OR SHE SHALL STATE the dates when he OR SHE expects to begin and end such absence; or (ii) [absent from the county of his residence, or if a resident of the city of New York absent from said city, because he will be on vacation elsewhere on such day, the dates upon which he expects to begin and end such vacation, the place or places where he expects to be on such vaca- tion, the name and address of his employer, if any, or if self-employed or retired a statement to such effect; or (iii)]unable to appear at a polling place because of illness or phys- ical disability or duties related to the primary care of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled; orA. 5276--B 3
[(iv) entitled to a ballot because he is a qualified voter registered as](III) an inmate or patient of a veteran's [administraion]ADMINIS- TRATION hospital; or [(v)](IV) detained in jail awaiting action by a grand jury or await- ing trial or confined in JAIL OR prison after a conviction for an offense other than a felony and stating the place where he OR SHE is so detained or confined [; or (vi) absent from the county of his residence, or if a resident of the city of New York absent from said city, because of his accompanying his spouse, parent or child who falls within one of the foregoing catego- ries; a statement that the applicant resides in the same election district as such spouse, parent or child, the name and address of such spouse, parent or child, and, unless the application accompanies the application of such spouse, parent or child, the information as to the status of such spouse, parent or child required by the applicable cate- gory]. (d) Such application shall permit the applicant to apply for an absen- tee ballot for either a primary election or the general election in any year and for those persons who will be continuously absent from their county of residence during the period between the fall primary election and the general election in any year to apply for ballots for both such elections in such year. A VOTER WHO APPLIES FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT SHALL BE SENT AN ABSENTEE BALLOT FOR ANY SPECIAL ELECTION OR WINTER PRIMARY THAT OCCURS DURING THE PERIOD OF ABSENCE SPECIFIED IN THE APPLI- CATION. 4. A voter who claims permanent illness or physical disability may make application for an absentee ballot and the right to receive an absentee ballot for each election thereafter as provided herein without further application, by filing with the board of elections an applica- tion which shall contain a statement to be executed by the voter [show- ing the particulars of his illness or disability]. Upon filing of such application the board of elections shall [investigate the facts stated therein and if satisfied as to the truth thereof, shall]cause the registration records of the voter to be marked "Permanently Disabled" and thereafter shall send an absentee ballot for each succeeding prima- ry, special or general election to such voter at his OR HER last known address by first class mail with a request to the postal authorities not to forward such ballot but to return it in five days in the event that it cannot be delivered to the addressee. The mailing of such ballot for each election shall continue until such voter's registration is cancelled. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.