Republican lawsuit changes process of absentee ballots

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SARATOGA – A Republican Supreme Court Judge issued a ruling on Friday on a court case that will alter the way absentee ballots are processed in New York.

Plaintiffs in the case, including the New York State Republican Committee and the New York State Conservative Committee argued that new rules that allowing voters to request a mail-in ballot for temporary illness or COVID, and require absentee ballots to be counted when polls close on Election Day, are unconstitutional.  The plaintiffs say that counting the ballots on election night will prohibit certain ballots from being reviewed by a judge if the ballot is flawed.

The State Legislature expanded the opportunities to vote by absentee ballot during the COVID pandemic.  The plaintiffs, including Dutchess County Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight argued successfully that “authorizing absentee voting on the basis of fear of COVID-19 is unconstitutional.”

In rendering her decision, Judge Dianne Freestone took aim at the Democratic defendants, saying “Indeed, the Respondents’ respective papers are replete with alarmist statistics of rising incidences of COVID-19 infections and the collective phantom menaces of Monkey Pox and Polio looming. The Respondents suggest throughout their respective papers and arguments that this consternation about constitutionality is the Shakespearean “much ado about nothing” as these absentee voting expansions will sunset and expire at the end of 2022.

The COVID exemption had already been upheld by a higher court, allowing those seeking to vote by absentee ballot for fear of infection can still do so, even though Judge Freestone indicated her displeasure with the higher court’s ruling.

Judge Freestone called the Democrat argument regarding the pandemic a “pollyannaish notion”.

Pursuant to the ruling absentee ballots, according to the judge, will not be counted upon receipt or on election night.

NYS Republican Committee Chairperson Nick Langworthy rejoiced in the ruling, saying “Today is another good day for free and fair elections in New York. Just like their illegal Hochulmander and their non-citizen voting scheme, Democrats’ attempt to rig our elections was slapped down by the courts.”