The new law will go into effect April 1, 2022 and will apply to every county in New York State.
As more New Yorkers get comfortable with absentee voting, a newly signed law from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz will make it easier for voters to keep track of where their ballot is from start to finish. The new law (A4186-B) was signed on December 22, 2021 and will create a statewide online absentee ballot tracking system, something which is already in effect in New York City and was used in recent municipal elections. The new law was also carried by State Senator Leroy Comrie.
As part of the new law, each county will be required to maintain an absentee ballot tracking system that is integrated into the statewide system and which may optionally be integrated with the United States Postal Service tracking system. Voters will not have to create an account but will be required to verify their identity to ensure that access is only provided for their own ballot record.
The statewide ballot tracking system will require the following information be made available to voters by their local Board of Elections:
• receipt of voter’s application for an absentee ballot;
• approval or rejection (with reason for rejection) for voter’s application;
• date of mailing or delivery of absentee ballot and expected date of receipt, including specific indication if the ballot was returned as undeliverable;
• receipt of voter’s completed absentee ballot;
• determination of whether the ballot envelope requires the voter to cure an error; and
• confirmation that the ballot was counted or rejected (including a brief statement of the reason for rejection).
The bill was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2022 but will instead go into effect on April 1, 2022 pursuant to changes proposed by the Governor and agreed to by the Legislature. According to the approval memo (Approval Memorandum – No. 95 Chapter 727), the change was requested by the State Board of Elections and local boards out of concern that they needed additional time to accommodate the required new processes, technological requirements, and operational issues.
Assemblyman Dinowitz previously passed legislation to allow New Yorkers to request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about catching or spreading a communicable disease (such as COVID-19). This law expires on December 31, 2021, but Assemblyman Dinowitz has introduced new legislation which would extend this option to voters through February 1, 2024.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “It should be as easy and stress-free as possible for New Yorkers to vote, and absentee voting is an increasingly popular and convenient method for eligible voters to cast their ballots. This new law will help all New Yorkers know exactly where their absentee ballot is in the process, and will help inform decisions about whether they need to take additional action to ensure that their vote is received and counted. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law, to State Senator Comrie for his leadership in the other chamber, and to all of our colleagues for supporting the bill in the Legislature.”