Breaking: New York State Senate Passes No-Excuse Vote by Mail Bill, an Important Bill that Would Improve Voting Access for Millions of New Yorkers
For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2023
New York — This evening, the New York State Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Gianaris that would allow New Yorkers to vote by mail without needing an excuse. No-excuse vote-by-mail was temporarily available to New Yorkers during the pandemic, but that option has expired.
“Some 35 states already offer no-excuse vote by mail options, and now thanks to the New York State Senate, New York is on the path to joining them,” said Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government. “No-excuse vote-by-mail increases eligible voter participation, allowing workers who have unconventional work schedules or are elderly to cast a ballot by mail. It also eases the burden on election officials by reducing the demand on Election Day. Overall, the legislation prioritizes responsive government for the people of New York as well as the folks who run the state’s elections.
“I’m thrilled by the leadership of Senator Gianaris and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to get this bill passed in the Senate, and hope that the New York State Assembly takes this bill up without delay.”
According to data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, nearly 2 million New Yorkers used no-excuse mail voting in 2020 to vote when the option was temporarily made available during the pandemic. Less than 400,000 New Yorkers used mail to vote in 2016 — state voter participation jumped from 57.2 in 2016 to 61.1 percent in 2020.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and Massachusetts all have no-excuse mail voting on the books, and Connecticut is on track to make it permanent in 2024. Voter participation during presidential elections in those states has consistently tracked higher than in New York, according to a recent study.
“We’re grateful to Senator Gianaris for his leadership in advancing this crucial measure to strengthen voting access in New York, said Christina Harvey, Executive Director of Stand Up America. By creating a permanent universal mail-in voting system, more New Yorkers will be able to make their voices heard in our elections, whether they are hardworking people who may not have enough hours in the day to get to the polls, seniors who can’t vote in person, or someone who prefers to fill out their ballot at their own pace in the privacy of their home.”
“A stronger, more accessible democracy makes New York a more desirable place to live and work,” said Daniella Ballou-Aares, CEO & Co-Founder of the Leadership Now Project. “Vote by mail is a crucial modernization that 35 states have already adopted. We look forward to the speedy passage of this important measure.”
A recent poll conducted for the Institute for Responsive Government found broad support for making no-excuse mail voting permanent. By a 57-37 margin, New Yorkers approved.
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The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. IRG provides data, research, and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.