© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

New York law allowing early counting of absentee ballots in limbo

Election officials count absentee ballots on Nov, 3, 2020, in Beloit, Wis.
Scott Olson
/
Getty Images
Election officials count absentee ballots on Nov, 3, 2020.

New York’s plan to start counting absentee ballots early hit a roadblock Friday when a state judge ruled the law unconstitutional.

Saratoga County Judge Diane Freestone said the law clashes with an individual’s constitutional right to challenge ballots in court before they’re counted.

It was unclear immediately Friday if New York Democrats would appeal the decision. Governor Kathy Hochul’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

State GOP chair Nick Langworthy on Friday called the judge’s decision a win for election integrity.

In 2020, delays, litigation and mistakes by election boards that faced a flood of absentee ballots led to long waits for election results.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature eventually passed a law allowing for early counting of absentee voting.

Republicans sued in state court to strike down the law.

Democrats defended the law as crucial to ensuring the state can handle the number of people wanting to apply by mail because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans are also suing to strike down a law allowing voters worried about catching COVID-1-9 to vote by absentee.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.