Amid widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions in 2020, new election provisions were enacted nationwide granting voters expanded access to absentee ballots.
With the pandemic-related hysteria in the past, however, a number of prominent Democrats are pushing to continue and even expand these measures. Many Republicans have cited these efforts — ostensibly aimed at expanding voting access — as a pathway to rampant election fraud.
This week, Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that included a number of voting provisions, including wider availability of mail-in ballots. She touted the move on social media, claiming that it was a step toward “safeguarding the integrity of our electoral process and ensuring equal access to the ballot box.”
We are further cementing New York’s place as a national leader on voting rights.
By safeguarding the integrity of our electoral process and ensuring equal access to the ballot box, we empower every New Yorker to have their voice heard. pic.twitter.com/s0B33N9jB1
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 20, 2023
Her post was inundated with replies from those who believe the new law will only make elections less reliable, and a new lawsuit seeks to make that case in court.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is leading the action and is joined by a network of groups with similar concerns that this Democratic measure will “remove basic safeguards on absentee voting and unregulated mass mail ballots in clear violation of the state constitution.”
State law currently limits access to absentee ballots to those who are physically unable to make it to the polls or will be in a different location on Election Day. In 2021, New Yorkers voted down a measure that would expand those parameters.
Nevertheless, Hochul’s signature will grant access to an absentee ballot to any voter who requests one.
In her statement on the matter, Stefanik argued: “Kathy Hochul and extreme New York Democrats are trying to destroy what is left of election integrity in New York. Under Kathy Hochul’s failed leadership, elections are less secure and less transparent and will now be unconstitutional. As a New York voter, I am proud to lead this coalition in defending basic election integrity on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sempolinski (R-NY) was similarly upset about a law that he said “blatantly violates the spirit of the constitution and is a pretty transparent attempt to avoid violating the letter of the constitution to put in place something the voters roundly rejected only two years ago.”