Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed a bill that would require the counting and canvassing of affidavit ballots cast by eligible voters who showed up at the wrong polling sites for whatever reason, so long as they’re voting in the right county and Assembly district.
Assembly Member Robert Carroll, the bill’s prime sponsor in Albany’s lower chamber, told amNewYork Metro that the legislation would address a common problem where people show up to the wrong polling place on Election Day and are given an affidavit ballot, instead of being directed to the correct site, by poll workers. Oftentimes voters end up at the wrong polling location, Carroll said, because either an election official directed them there or their voting site changed without their knowledge.
Those affidavit ballots – which are issued to voters who, for whatever reason, don’t appear in a polling place’s system – would then be invalidated in their entirety because the voter cast it at the wrong site.
“That ballot, because they showed up at the wrong polling place and voted, even though they voted for – oftentimes – all the correct offices, that ballot would be invalidated,” Carroll said. “This bill says, as long as you show up in the right county, in the right Assembly district, so you’re somewhat in the right area, like you didn’t just show up somewhere completely out of the blue, your ballot will be cast and counted for all the offices that you were legally allowed to vote for.”
However, Carroll said, if an individual happens to vote in the right Assembly district but the incorrect state Senate and Congressional districts, their vote would only count for the districts they’re supposed to vote in. Statewide and municipality-wide elections would always count, he added.
“This is going to help them franchise 1000s of people every year,” Carroll said.
There have been several cases, the assembly member said, where the outcome of an election was swayed by a thousand votes due – in part – to affidavit ballots getting thrown out because voters cast them at the wrong polling sites. Specifically, Carroll said, the law – as it’s currently written – tipped the results of a 2020 upstate Congressional race in favor of GOP Congress Member Claudia Tenney over Democrat Anthony Brindisi.
Hochul, in an emailed statement, said this legislation will help to further protect New Yorkers’ right to vote.
“Access to the ballot box shouldn’t be held up by complicated and unclear voting processes,” Hochul said. “New York continues to lead the nation in taking critical steps forward to protect the fundamental right to vote. My administration is committed to empowering voters and improving the state’s electoral process, which has disenfranchised too many New Yorkers for too long.”