Cuomo Expands NY Mail-In Voting In Call To ‘Break Down Barriers To Democracy’

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor a... NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images) MORE LESS

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill Thursday that will allow most of the state’s more than 12 million voters to cast their ballots by mail in the November general election

The bill will allow registered voters to request an absentee ballot if they are unable to show up at a polling location due to risk of infection or concerns about spreading illness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Times was the first to report that beginning immediately on Thursday, New York voters will be able to request a mailed ballot in a growing trend to expand vote-by-mail across the U.S.

President Donald Trump has railed against voting by mail as a campaign tactic, discouraging the practice and repeatedly making false claims that mailed ballots will promote fraud. He has intensified those attacks in recent lawsuits in Nevada and most recently in New Jersey.

On Tuesday, counsel for the Trump campaign claimed in a lawsuit to block the expansion of mail-in voting that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to mail ballots to all of the state’s registered voters was a “brazen power grab.” The complaint described universal mail-in voting as a “recipe for disaster” and suggested that the move would “dilute the votes of honest citizens and deprive them of their right to vote in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The President has been increasingly pointed in his rebuke of mail-in voting in Democrat-led states, recently suggesting in tweets that voting by mail in Republican-led states like Florida — where he last week requested an absentee ballot  — has been “cleaned up.”

New York’s expanded mail-in ballot plan will differ from New Jersey’s in that instead of sending ballots to registered voters de facto, voters who want to vote-by-mail will still need to request a ballot, either online, by phone, in person or by mail. According to Cuomo’s bill, ballots postmarked by Election Day will be counted.

“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November.” 

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