2009-05-22 / Top Stories

Residents Can Get Absentee Ballots By Fax

The State Senate Elections Committee has approved legislation that would allow voters to request an absentee ballot by fax, substantially reducing the time it takes those voters to receive their ballots and making it easier for voters who are out of town or abroad to return the ballots in time for them to be counted.

New York requires return ballots to be postmarked by the day before an election, which can be a difficult deadline to meet. This legislation makes use of the ease and expediency of new technologies to encourage all eligible New Yorkers to cast a ballot even when they cannot make it to the polls.

According to US Senator Charles E. Schumer, more than 8,000 troops from Upstate New York were deprived of the fundamental right to vote due to the existing outdated and inefficient mail-only process. It currently takes as much as 75 days to request, receive and return an absentee ballot. Allowing New York's servicemen and women abroad, and others, to fax in their absentee ballot request could cut up to 24 days off the entire absentee ballot voting process. This will result in many more votes being cast and counted.

"Voting is a fundamental right in our country not a privilege," said Senator Liz Krueger, the bills sponsor. "This bill will strengthen our democracy by removing unnecessary barriers which were prohibiting citizens from casting absentee votes. These barriers fell particularly hard on people who were out of state including military personnel who were overseas."

"As Elections Committee Chair, I am pleased that our committee is working to bring the most fundamental democratic right to more qualified New Yorkers across the world," said Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. "The entire committee is dedicated to bringing about drastic and essential change to revise the way New Yorkers vote, and this important step today will make it easier than ever before for those overseas to cast a ballot. We should not penalize those serving our nation abroad, but instead should do everything we can to ensure that their votes and voices matter."

"The Senate is working at a very rapid pace to revise and reform the electoral process in New York," said Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith. "Nothing matters more than including those serving our nation - often thousands of miles away - in this process. I am confident that through the work of the Elections Committee, the absentee ballot process will continue to be revised to make it as efficient and quick as possible."

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