STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order to Send Absentee Ballot Applications to Voters due to COVID-19 Pandemic
“Democracy cannot be another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The safest way to hold an election in these uncertain times would be by doing so on paper by mail.
“New Yorkers should be able to request their absentee ballots online, there is something wrong with the fact that voters will have to go through these bureaucratic steps just to vote. The Erie County Board of Elections has already done it and every other county should follow their lead. Governor Cuomo should also implement online voter registration for everyone, even if they don’t have New York State driver’s license or issued identification.
“If Governor Cuomo cannot order absentee ballots be delivered to every voter, then sending the applications is the next best thing. Mailing every voter an absentee ballot application will be a crucial reminder that they need to actually apply to vote absentee.
“New Yorkers should get absentee ballot applications with a pre-stamped self-addressed envelope as well as instructions on how to submit by fax, email, or where possible just filling out the form online.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo is doing the right thing and proving that there is no reason to prohibit voting by mail. If New York can have everyone vote by mail during a pandemic, this is one part of the ‘new normal’ that should remain."
Governor Cuomo today stated in a press conference that he had ordered the Board of Election to mail all registered voters absentee ballot applications. Mailing ballots to all New Yorkers was one of the key steps Council Member Kallos in an op-ed in the Gotham Gazette on how to “Ensure Voter Access Amid Coronavirus.” New York is in the minority of states without vote by mail as 28 other states allow for no-fault absentee voting, including Florida, Michigan, Ohio and California.