Under Siege From COVID, Cuomo Expands Absentee Voting For June Election

ALBANY, NEW YORK - APRIL 7, 2020:New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo (D) speaking at a press Conference at the State Capitol.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) speaking at a press Conference at the State Capitol in Albany on April 7, 2020. (Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
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April 8, 2020 3:40 p.m.

With more than 6,000 New Yorkers dead of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Wednesday that he’ll issue an executive order to expand absentee voting to all New Yorkers for the June 23 primary.

“I have seen lines of people on television voting in other states. This is totally nonsensical,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing on the COVID pandemic. “God bless them for having such diligence for their civic duty that they would go stand on a line to vote. But people shouldn’t have to make that choice.”

Cuomo’s announcement comes a day after Wisconsin, thanks to Republican-majority courts and legislative chambers, pushed ahead with its chaotic in-person primary. Images of voters standing close together in long lines and clad in makeshift masks were widely shared.

Currently, New York requires voters to provide an excuse why they can’t vote in person. Acceptable reasons include “temporary or permanent illness or disability.”

Cuomo’s office did not immediately clarify if the order will also mandate that absentee ballots be sent automatically to registered voters, for which New York Attorney General Letitia James has recently called. It is also unclear if deadlines for submitting the absentee ballots will be extended.

“Voters shouldn’t have to choose between their health and the right to cast a ballot,” she said in a statement. “If we act now, we have more than a month before the presidential primary and numerous special elections across our state to take action and ensure every eligible New York voter receives an absentee ballot.”

She is also calling for in-person voting to be suspended altogether.

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