New York’s new no-excuse absentee voting law violates its state constitution, a new lawsuit filed by a coalition of Republican groups and politicians alleges.
Filed on Wednesday by the Republican National Committee and other Republican-affiliated groups, the suit contends that a law signed by Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul “allow[ing] any registered voter in the state to cast an early ballot by mail” breaches the New York Constitution. Under New York’s top legal document, absentee voting is strictly reserved for qualified voters who may be “absent from the county of their residence” or “unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability.”
The RNC alleges that New York’s new voting law ignores this provision by permitting “qualified voters to vote by mail rather than in person, even if they do not satisfy either of the two limited exceptions set forth” in the state constitution.
“The Mail-Voting Law was enacted by the Legislature in open and knowing defiance of Article II, § 2, ignoring and subverting the will of the People whom the Legislature is supposed to represent,” the lawsuit reads. The suit’s plaintiffs — who were brought together with the assistance of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) — include Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney, among others.
In New York, the state legislature is granted the authority to propose amendments to ratify the state constitution. Those proposals are then considered by voters at the ballot box.
Roughly two years ago, the state legislature sent a constitutional amendment proposal to voters that would have altered the state constitution to allow for no-excuse absentee voting. During the Nov. 2, 2021, election, New Yorkers strongly rejected the proposal, with 55 percent opposing and 45 percent supporting.
As noted in Wednesday’s lawsuit, the New York legislators who sponsored the proposal even acknowledged that the state’s constitution only allows absentee voting for those who are sick or absent from their residence on Election Day. The RNC and other plaintiffs claim that by passing a no-excuse mail-in voting bill, the New York General Assembly “has now contradicted what it acknowledged in 2021” and is trying to “circumvent the will of the voters … by simply renaming the measure.”
“The people of New York and their constitution must be the ultimate authority in determining how their state is governed,” RITE President Derek Lyons said in a statement. “Attempts like this to subvert the will of the people undermine the very foundations of our democratic system.”
The RNC and other plaintiffs have asked the court to issue a declaratory judgment declaring New York’s new mail-in voting law a violation of the state constitution and a permanent injunction prohibiting the state from implementing the law.