Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

New York Expands Options for Absentee Voters to Have Their Vote Counted

Settlement reached for November election: Eligible voters should not lose their constitutional rights over technical issues
ALBANY, New York -

Today, a settlement agreement for the November election has been reached between attorneys representing New York voters and state attorneys with the New York State Board of Elections and Office of the New York Attorney General, addressing issues brought by Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Selendy & Gay in their July case over the process by which the state counts absentee ballots. The League of Women Voters of New York State and an individual, Carmelina Palmer, are plaintiffs in the case.  

Terms of the settlement specify how voters will be contacted if their ballot is rejected and how they can fix the problem. The state has expanded who will benefit from this “cure” process to include other types of errors beyond their signature, including defects with their envelope. It will also, for the first time, provide a clear list of technical issues—such as use of pencil or extraneous marks on the ballot—that do not trigger ballot rejection and do not require any further voter action. Counties had previously used many of these reasons to disqualify ballots, leading to alarming ballot rejection rates, including in this year’s primary elections. More than 84,000 ballots were rejected in New York City alone. The settlement builds off the suite of voter protections addressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature in August.

“This settlement, combined with legislative action, will give voters clarity and confidence heading into the fall,” said Danielle Lang, co-director, voting rights and redistricting at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “New York should see a sharp reduction in the rejection rate of absentee ballots, a major departure from its worst-in-the-nation rejection rate in previous elections. This is the result of a collaborative process with the state where election officials recognized the staggering problem of ballot rejections and came to the table to identify solutions. We all agree that eligible voters should not lose their constitutional rights over technical issues.”

“The right to vote by absentee ballot has been strengthened for all New Yorkers,” stated Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New York State. “Voters now have the opportunity to correct unintended mistakes made when completing and returning their absentee ballots. With new laws passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and now this settlement, a process has been established to ensure that voters’ ballot will not be rejected without their knowledge and ability to fix the error. This is a huge win for New York voters.”

 “We are gratified that the Governor and legislature have addressed issues raised in our suit for the upcoming election,” said Selendy & Gay partner Joshua Margolin. “This is a very important step for New York to protect its citizens during one of the most important presidential elections in US history.”

For this election, voters will be given five to seven days (depending on the date of receipt of the ballot) to verify their identity and fix any problems with their ballot after being notified by the Board of Elections. The settlement specifies the way that the Board must contact voters by phone, email or mail. Voters can resolve any issues raised by the Board by providing their name, date of birth, and voter registration address and returning their notice form to affirm their identity. 

Read the League of Women Voters of New York State’s FAQs sheet on voting in 2020.

In the 2018 general election, New York had the highest absentee ballot rejection rate in the country, discarding more than 34,000 absentee ballots or about 14% of all absentee ballots cast. The use of mail voting skyrocketed in this year’s primaries due to the pandemic.


Campaign Legal Center (CLC) advances democracy through law, fighting for every American’s right to participate in the democratic process. CLC uses tactics such as litigation, policy advocacy, communications and partnerships to win victories that result in a more transparent, accountable and inclusive democracy.

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo