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November 05, 2012

NY Governor Issues Executive Order Allowing Displaced New Yorkers To Vote At Any Polling Place In The State (Sort Of)

This is just breaking but here's the Executive Order Andrew Cuomo just issued.

The relevant part.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to temporarily suspend and otherwise alter or modify specific provisions of any statute, local law, ordinance, orders, rules or regulations, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such provisions would prevent, hinder or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster, hereby temporarily suspend and otherwise alter or modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order until further notice, the following:

Section 8-302 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise altered and modified so that a voter seeking to vote by affidavit ballot need not affirm that such voter is duly registered in the election district in which such voter seeks to cast an affidavit ballot if such voter is registered to vote within one of the federally declared counties or New York City.

Section 9-209 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise modified so that every board of elections in the State shall transmit the affidavit or provisional ballot of any voter who resides in one of the federally declared counties to the board of elections wherein such voter is registered to vote to be canvassed with other affidavit and absentee ballots for the election district wherein the voter resides.

Subparagraph (iii) of Paragraph (a) of Subdivision 2 of Section 9-209 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise altered and modified so that the board of elections for the county in which such voter resides shall cast and canvass such ballot, if it determines that such voter was entitled to vote regardless of the fact that the voter may have appeared in the incorrect polling place, provided that such vote shall not be cast and canvassed for such contests for which the person was not entitled to vote at such election.

FURTHER, the State Board of Elections shall promptly instruct county boards of elections on the proper implementation of this Executive Order including requiring such boards:

1. to instruct poll workers to provide affidavit ballots and guidance to voters; and

2. to provide notice and guidance to voters in accordance with this Executive Order: (a) that indicates that voters who reside in the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester, or in New York City may receive and complete an affidavit ballot at any polling place in New York State; and (b) that the voterís vote will count for the office of President and United States Senator and it will also count for any other candidate for office and district as well as any ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot in the voterís home district.

This isn't as bad as I first thought. Initially it seemed as if you evacuated your home in Brooklyn but were staying with relatives in Syracuse you could just walk into a polling place there and demand to vote.

What Cuomo is saying is you can go into a polling place in Syracuse fill out a provisional ballot and that the election officials in Syracuse have to send it on to the Kings County (Brooklyn) Board of Elections.

Presumably when they are counted at some future date poll watchers from either party could challenge those votes, as they can challenge any provisional ballot.

Since NY is going to go to Obama and Kirsten Gillibrand is going to beat Wendy Long, it won't delay anything in those races. It could create some problems in House races, especially in Nassau and Suffolk counties where they were several close races last time.

More troubling to me is the fact that there's a provision of NYS law that lets the Governor unilaterally, "temporarily suspend and otherwise alter or modify specific provisions of any statute, local law, ordinance, orders, rules or regulations, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency". That sounds...dangerous.

Also, the law only allows Cuomo to do this if the law in question. "would prevent, hinder or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster". I'm not sure how keeping the election laws in place really touches on coping with a disaster.

That's the problems with this power grants/grabs...they always get used and they always wind up pushing the envelope of what was intended.

My prediction (as with most things): Lawsuits.


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posted by DrewM. at 06:22 PM

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