Absentee voting could be here to stay


Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz says a bill he’s championed that would extend more lenient absentee balloting as the coronavirus pandemic continues is close to becoming law.

If successful, the new law could help make “no-excuse” absentee voting permanent, leading into an attempt to amend the state constitution. If all goes well, voters could cast their ballots for the constitutional amendment as early as November 2021, putting such a law into permanent effect by the beginning of 2022.

“It is readily apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be under control by November, and frankly at this rate, it doesn’t seem certain that our country will have a handle on this in 2021 either,” Dinowitz said, in a release. “New Yorkers must be able to cast their ballots without fearing for their health or the health of their loved ones.

“While we work through the constitutional amendment process, this legislation will successfully bridge the gap between our needs now, and where we hope to be in 2022.”

Dinowitz’s current bill would treat the coronavirus in relation to absentee balloting the same way it worked for the June primary. That means a voter can qualify for an absentee ballot as long as he or she are worried about spreading or contracting the virus that causes COVID-19.

If signed into law, the bill would be in effect for the November general election, but would then carry over into the city elections slated to be held in 2021.

A proposed constitutional amendment passed the legislature in 2019, and would have to do so again in 2021. After that, it would go to a general vote across the state.