By Robert Pozarycki
After signing legislation last week to expand absentee voting in New York and ensure that all votes are counted this fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo followed up Monday with an executive order aimed at ensuring a quick, accurate count of ballots.
The order mandates that all boards of election in New York state inform voters of upcoming filing and voting deadlines and provide the proper staffing to process and count all valid ballots received in the Nov. 3 general election.
Cuomo said the order aims to further boost public confidence in the election’s integrity, at a time when President Trump and his most ardent supporters make baseless claims about alleged election rigging. On Monday, Trump repeated rigging accusations during an appearance at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We want to make sure that every vote is counted; every voice is heard and that it’s fair and right and accurate,” Cuomo said in an Aug. 24 announcement. “I’m issuing today’s executive order because we want boards of elections to count votes efficiently and we want them to get it right, but we want it done in a timely manner. We don’t want to hear after-the-fact excuses.”
The governor’s order mandates that each board of elections in New York state send a mailing by Sept. 8 informing voters of all deadlines pertaining to voting, including absentee ballot requests and submissions.
Each board must also send to the state Board of Elections by Sept. 20 detailed staffing plans and needs to ensure that all boards are properly equipped to handle the election and vote count.
The state Board of Elections will also adopt “a uniform clarified envelope” and require all county boards to use it for voters to submit their absentee ballots. This would appear to further ensure each submitted ballot’s validity.
Cuomo’s order also requires the boards to adopt a swift voting count. All objections from the campaigns must be made to the county board in real-time, and each board must ensure that all votes, including affidavit and absentee ballots, are ready to count within 48 hours after elections.
This order would help avoid a repeat of the slow count of the votes in the June 23 primary in New York City. It took the board nearly six weeks to certify the results.
Finally, the governor’s executive order gives New Yorkers the option to submit an absentee ballot for village, town, and special district elections.