Thousands of NY voters can fix faulty ballot statements now

Thousands of New Yorkers whose absentee ballots were disqualified for mailing errors have time to correct the problem weeks after the election under a new state law.

The city Board of Elections preliminary report released Tuesday found that 96 percent of the record 713,536 absentee ballots received in the mail during the coronavirus pandemic — or 688,636 — were deemed valid.

Four percent or 15,330 ballots were disqualified for filing errors.

Of those, about 40 percent — 6,132 ballots — could be corrected for technical snafus, said BOE spokeswoman Valerie Velazquez.

Most of the remaining 60 percent or 9,198 ballots were invalidated because a voter had already cast a ballot in person, and therefore cannot be corrected.

Under the new law, voters have up to five days to correct the defect after being notified by election officials to fix the defect.

The good news: Only 4 percent of the ballots were disqualified — a vast improvement after more than 20 percent or 84,000 mail-in ballots that were thrown out during the June primary because of snafus, mainly because voters forgot to sign the oath statement.

Critics said the confusing envelope sent by the elections board contributed to the high disqualification rate, which they considered voter disenfranchisement.

Voting rights advocates said the city BOE did a better job designing the oath statement accompanying the absentee ballots for the general election.

Still, the whole process of processing and counting absentee ballots takes way too long under New York law, a top Democratic lawmaker said.

The city BOE didn’t start counting mail-in ballots until Tuesday — a week after the Nov. 3 election — and some counties in the state won’t begin until next week.

Under the law, the canvass of the votes must be completed by Nov. 28.

“If New York were a swing state we’d be the center of a national scandal,” said Sen. Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queen).

Gianaris proposed legislation that would allow absentee ballots to be counted beginning on Election Day, as is done in many other states including Florida.

“There is no good excuse for election results to continue to be up in the air weeks and months after people have already cast their votes,” Gianaris said.

“If Florida can count absentee ballots right away, New York can do it.”

The mailing and processing of absentee ballots has bedeviled the city BOE.

Election officials came under a firestorm of criticism after it was forced to resend absentee ballots to 99,000 voters in Brooklyn after its printer in September mailed the wrong names and addresses on its ballot return envelopes.

President Trump ridiculed city election officials for taking so long to handle absentee ballots during the June primary.

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