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Common Cause/NY applauds Gov. Cuomo for consolidating primary elections


NEW YORK -- Today, Governor Cuomo announced he plans to consolidate the April 28th presidential primary with congressional and legislative primaries on June 23rd. In response, Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY issued the following statement:

"Consolidating the presidential primary to June 23rd is the right move to protect voters' health and free up much needed funding for more immediate public health needs. We applaud Governor Cuomo for taking this step. Next, New York lawmakers must expand absentee voting to ensure all voters can exercise their right to vote -- no matter the situation."

Earlier this week, Common Cause/NY released a white paper today with recommendations on how New York elections can proceed during a pandemic, including consolidating the April 28th presidential primary to the June 23rd legislative and congressional primary, and expanding absentee voting without scaling up immediately to a 100% vote by mail system. Now that the primary is consolidated, local boards of elections must immediately notify voters that the presidential primary has moved to June so as to avoid any confusion.

Common Cause/NY's recommendations for how to proceed with an election during COVD-19:
  • The April 28th presidential primary, and all other elections scheduled for that date, should be consolidated to the June 23rd primary given the escalating spread of the virus around the state. This will give local boards of elections much needed time to adjust their plans for early voting and election day.
  • A uniform and measured expansion of the requirements to vote absentee extending the provisions of the Governor's Executive Order to make it easier for voters to request a ballot.
    • The process of requesting an absentee ballot requires voters to provide a mailing address where the ballot should be sent. This would dramatically increase the likelihood of a voter receiving their requested ballot. This would also provide BOEs an opportunity to update their voter file with the correct address.
    • Local boards of elections must immediately prepare to scale up for the expansion of absentee voting, which means:
    • developing a more robust ballot tracking process.
    • providing pre-paid postage for return envelopes.
    • designating an abundance of secure drop box locations that aren't just USPS mailboxes.
    • The state must allocate additional funds to deal with additional costs associated with printing, instituting new infrastructure, voter outreach and education, equipment maintenance, translation services, and staff training.
  • Maintain accomodations for in-person early voting and election day voting. For some voters, absentee voting is not feasible. This is particularly true for disabled voters who require the use of ballot marking devices such as those who are vision impaired, or have a disability or condition that would make it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot by hand as well as those who need access to translation services. Even '100% vote by mail states' like Washington still have in-person voting as an option during early voting and on election day.
  • Any in-person voting must be conducted in such a manner that voters, poll workers, and election administrators are kept safe and healthy by following the most recent CDC sanitary and mass gathering protocols. We recognize there may come a point when in-person voting must be significantly modified due to COVID-19.

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