2011-03-02 / Features

Military Special Elections Voting Bill Offered By Cuomo

BY JOHN TOSCANO


The governor’s bill recognizes that current law does not provide sufficient time for the state and county boards of elections to finalize and transmit to military voters overseas the final ballot within 45 days of a special election, as required by federal law. The governor’s bill recognizes that current law does not provide sufficient time for the state and county boards of elections to finalize and transmit to military voters overseas the final ballot within 45 days of a special election, as required by federal law. Members of the military will have more time to cast ballots in New York state’s special elections under a bill proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

County boards of elections would be given the additional time in order to allow time for military ballots to be mailed and counted in compliance with federal law, a statement from the governor’s office said.

The bill was filed now in order to ensure that all voters in the 26th Congressional District have an opportunity to cast legal ballots in a special election to fill a vacancy. Under current law, the governor’s statement said, special elections are held between 30 and 40 days from their announcement. Cuomo’s bill would more than double the length of time to between 70 and 80 days.

The 26th CD is in the central part of the state and includes Ulster County and parts of seven other counties including Broome, Sullivan and Dutchess.

“For years, New Yorkers serving in the military abroad have been inadvertently left out of the electoral process,” Cuomo said. “This measure will rectify the discrepancy between New York state and federal laws regarding special elections, allow members of the military to have their voices heard and ensure fair and accurate representation of the citizens of New York.”

The governor’s bill recognizes that current law does not provide sufficient time for the state and county boards of elections to finalize and transmit to military voters overseas the final ballot within 45 days of a special election, as required by federal law.

The changes to those provisions in the governor’s bill would remedy the problem by providing additional time.

The governor’s bill seeks to:

•Expand the period between the announcement of a special election and the date of the election to 40 days, as a result of which the special election would be held between 70 and 80 days from its announcement rather than 30 to 40 days.

•Require that military ballots be transmitted no later than 45 days before a special election.

•Change the date before which the state Board of Elections must certify candidate information to the applicable county boards of election from 13 days to 53 days before a special election, and similarly require county boards of elections to determine candidates and ballot questions to be included on the special election ballot 53 days before a special election.

•Require each county board of elections to transmit to the Secretary of State election results within 20 days after a special election, instead of the 10 days required by existing law.

Upon being passed by the legislature and being signed into law by the governor, the bill would take effect immediately.

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