Governor Cuomo today announced a program bill to amend New York's Public Officers Law to provide county boards of elections additional time prior to special elections in order to allow enough time for military ballots to be mailed and counted in compliance with federal law.
Passage of this bill is needed to ensure that all voters in the 26th Congressional District have an opportunity to cast legal ballots in a special election to fill the congressional seat vacancy. Under current law, special elections are held between 30 and 40 days from their announcement. Governor Cuomo's measure would more than double the length to between 70 and 80 days.
"For years, New Yorkers serving in the military abroad have been inadvertently left out of the electoral process," Governor Cuomo said. "This measure will rectify the discrepancy between New York state and federal laws regarding special elections, allow members of the military to have their voices heard, and ensure fair and accurate representation of the citizens of New York."
Governor Cuomo's measure recognizes that existing provisions of the Public Officers Law and Election Law do not provide sufficient time for the State and county boards of elections to finalize and transmit to military voters overseas the final ballot within 45 days of a special election, as required by federal law. The changes to those provisions in this bill would remedy that problem by providing additional time for election officials to finalize and transmit military ballots and requiring that such transmission occur earlier than under existing law.
The Governor's bill seeks to:
* Expand the period between the announcement of a special election and the date of the election by 40 days. As a result, the special election would be held between seventy and eighty days from its announcement, rather than between thirty and forty days.
* Require that military ballots be transmitted no later than 45 days before a special election.
* Change the date by which the State Board of Elections must certify candidate information to the applicable county boards of elections from 13 days to 53 days before a special election, and similarly require county boards of elections to determine candidates and ballot questions to be included on the special election ballot 53 days before a special election.
* Require each county board of elections to transmit to the Secretary of State election results within 20 days after a special election, instead of the 10 days required in existing law.
The bill, once passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, would take effect immediately.