Hochul Signs COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Legislation, Rules Set through 2022

J.M. Lesinski

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A shot of Borden Road in Buffalo, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to see unprecedented growth across the nation, lawmakers in New York state are getting ready for the long haul. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation that continues to permit voting by absentee ballot due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through 2022, allowing New Yorkers the right to request a ballot when there is a danger of contracting or spreading illness to the voter or other members of the public.

"No one should have to choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health and safety," Hochul stated of the legislation’s passage. "This legislation will ensure the pandemic does not create inaccessibility for voters during upcoming elections and help protect New Yorkers' access to the ballot."

Originally becoming law in July 2020 before expiring on December 31, 2021, the new law hopes to better increase voter access and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, absentee ballot applications are being accepted for the February 15th special elections in the 60th and 72nd assembly districts through January 31st by mail, until February 14th in-person, and they can also be mailed until February 15th.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we work, learn, and live— teaching us to adapt to in ways that we had never imagined before,” remarked New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi of the legislation. “We cannot allow the ongoing pandemic to undermine our democracy and interfere with New Yorkers' right to vote, and must similarly adapt to prioritize public health while protecting our democracy. This is why I introduced S7565, my bill alongside Assemblymember Dinowitz, to ensure that no New Yorker has to choose between their health and fulfilling their civic responsibility, allowing New Yorkers to continue to vote absentee in 2022. Thank you to Governor Hochul for recognizing the need for this legislation, and for prioritizing the wellbeing of New Yorkers, while committing to protect our democracy."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY
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