Lawsuit Changes How New York Absentee Ballots Can Be Rejected

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TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – People have started turning in absentee ballots and a recent lawsuit will change how some ballots might be rejected or counted.

According to the lawsuit by the League of Women Voters of New York, the state had the highest rates of absentee ballot rejection in the nation during the 2018 election.

(Gabe Altieri/WSKG)

Tens of thousands of votes were not counted for reasons like not signing with black or blue ink or using tape to close one of the return envelopes. Until the recent lawsuit, voters were not required to be informed that there was a problem with their absentee ballot.

Jennifer Wilson, Deputy Director of the League of Women Voters of New York State, said the success of their lawsuit makes three important changes.

“One – be able to find out if their ballot is going to be challenged, two – be able to address those challenges so that they could have their ballot cured and counted, and three – to get rid of some of these little nuances within the law that allow ballots to be disqualified,” Wilson said.

One of many reasons a ballot could be rejected is that someone’s signature does not match the one in the poll book. According to Wilson, there are legitimate reasons someone’s signature might have changed since they first registered to vote.

“Besides just getting older people can develop disabilities over time, maybe they have trouble writing,” she said. “There’s all kinds of reasons why your signature may not match what’s in the book.”

Wilson said their lawsuit settlement means that people must be notified if their absentee ballot might be rejected for any reason. They must be told what’s wrong and given the chance to address so their ballot will be counted.

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot in New York state is Oct. 27.