Attorney General James Protects New Yorkers’ Right to Vote

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement after the Appellate Division, Third Department rejected challenges to New York’s laws expanding access to absentee ballots and streamlining the counting process for returned absentee ballots, and affirmed a decision by state Supreme Court Judge Martin Affredou and overturned in part a decision by state Supreme Court Judge Dianne Freestone:

“We should be taking every step possible to empower voters and ease New Yorkers’ access to the polls. I was proud to defend New York’s absentee ballot reforms, and am happy with the decision to keep these commonsense election integrity initiatives in place. As Attorney General, I will always fight against efforts to infringe on the right to vote and make it harder for New Yorkers to make their voices heard.”

In 2021 and 2022, New York state implemented voting reforms which sought to expand access to absentee ballots, ensure minor technical mistakes on ballots wouldn’t invalidate votes, and update the ballot counting process and timeline. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) defended the laws against suits challenging their constitutionality. The decision by the Appellate Division, Third Department rejected those challenges.

Attorney General James has taken significant action to protect voters’ rights and access to the polls. The OAG has an Election Protection Hotline and works to inform voters to ensure they are able to report issues or if they experience problems. In May 2021, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against the Rensselaer County Board of Elections (BOE) for failing to provide county voters with adequate and equitable access to early voting poll sites, which in August 2021, affirmed and ordered BOE to select new early voting poll sites. Leading up to the 2020 primary elections, Attorney General James called for automatic absentee voting due to the pandemic and need to protect voters, and following the November election, Attorney General James issued an alert to ensure absentee voters were aware of their rights in case there was an issue with their ballots