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New York appeals court upholds state absentee voting laws

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.

In their unanimous decision, a five-judge panel reversed two Republican-led challenges to New York’s absentee voting laws.

A state law passed in 2020 permits people to vote absentee if they are concerned about catching or spreading a disease, like COVID-19.

The increase in absentee voting in recent years, largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, led to longer than expected wait times for election results. To speed up the counting process, lawmakers approved a measure in 2021 that allows absentee ballots to be reviewed by the local board of elections before Election Day. Once a ballot’s validity is reviewed, it can be prepared for counting.

Last week, a lower court sided with Republicans, who argued the laws restrict the rights of candidates to challenge ballots in court before being counted.

However, the appeals court ruled that Republicans waited too long to bring their case. Since absentee ballot counting has already begun across the state, overturning the rule now would mean treating incoming absentee ballots differently from those already counted.

This decision means that both laws will remain in effect for New York.

Voters can still request absentee ballots in-person at their local board of elections office until Nov. 7.

Emily is a former news intern at WSHU.