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State agrees to policy changes to prevent rejected ballots

Sep 21, 2020 2:30 pm
Edward McKinley is reporting for the Times Union a settlement reached last week between the state and a voting rights group included policy changes that will lead to fewer absentee ballots being rejected in November. New York previously had the highest rate of absentee ballot rejections of any state, with 34,000, or 14 percent, invalidated in 2018. If that percentage held this year with the expansion of absentee balloting due to COVID-19 it could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of canceled votes due to the antiquated provisions that have invalidated ballots for technicalities such as an errant pen mark. The lawsuit that led to the settlement was brought by the Campaign Legal Center on behalf of the League of Women Voters and a woman named Carmelina Palmer. Palmer has a health condition that causes her hands to shake, and she said the condition made it likely that her ballot would be thrown out because the signatures may not match through no fault of her own. The settlement agreement expands the so-called cure process, which requires the state to contact voters if they have turned in a mail ballot with some kind of mistake on it, allowing the voter to correct the error. “The settlement of this lawsuit combined with legislative action will give voters clarity and confidence heading into the fall,” Danielle Lang, a co-director at the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement. County boards of election will contact voters who turn in absentee ballots with errors or issues that could invalidate them, and voters this fall will be given up to a week to fix their ballots, depending on the date they mailed it. Read the full story in the Times Union.