New York: Some ballot requests may be affected by Chenango County cyber attack | Associated Press

A hacker attack against an upstate New York county’s computer system raised concern that some emailed absentee ballot applications may not be processed, but the state Board of Elections said voting won’t be affected overall. The cyber attack on Oct. 18 encrypted about 200 computers operated by Chenango County and hackers demanded ransom of $450 per computer to unlock the files, Herman Ericksen, the county’s information technology director, said Monday. “We are not paying the ransom,” he said. Last week, the county board of elections released a public statement urging anyone who had sent an absentee ballot application by email since Oct. 15 to call the board to verify it had been received. The statement said the cyber attack would not otherwise impact voting because “the board has redundancies in place that will allow the secure and effective administration of the general election.”

New York: Why the Botched New York City Primary Has Become the November Nightmare | Jesse McKinley/The New York Times

Election officials in New York City widely distributed mail-in ballots for the primary on June 23, which featured dozens of hard-fought races. The officials had hoped to make voting much easier, but they did not seem prepared for the response: more than 10 times the number of absentee ballots received in recent elections in the city. Now, nearly six weeks later, two closely watched congressional races remain undecided, and major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems are being cited as examples of the challenges facing the nation as it looks toward conducting the November general election during the pandemic. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other officials are trading blame for the botched counting in the city, and the Postal Service is coming under criticism over whether it is equipped to handle the sharp increase in absentee ballots. Election lawyers said one area of concern in New York City was that mail-in ballots have prepaid return envelopes. The Postal Service apparently had difficulty processing some of them correctly and, as a result, an unknown number of votes — perhaps thousands — may have been wrongfully disqualified because of a lack of a postmark.

New York: A month later, this New York City primary is still a train wreck and a warning to us all | Jada Yuan/The Washington Post

The city’s hottest primary election is the 12th Congressional District. In one corner, you have Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a pal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s who has been in Congress since 1993 and was recently elected chair of the House Oversight Committee. In the other is Suraj Patel, a former Obama campaign staffer and attorney who has never held public office and helped run his family’s business constructing and franchising hotels in the Midwest before moving to New York in 2006. Their contest has everything. The Upper East Side. The Lower East Side. A tenacious, white, wealthy 74-year-old Democratic incumbent. A 36-year-old Indian American challenger who has taught at New York University’s business school and aims to be the state’s first South Asian representative in Congress. Just 648 in-person votes are separating them, with 65,000 mail-in ballots still being counted. And an entire district of 718,000 people across three boroughs have no idea who their next representative will be — a full month after Election Day. “It’s been dysfunctional to the extreme,” said Brian Van Nieuwenhoven, treasurer of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club in the district. At the center of this mess is a massive influx of mail-in ballots — 403,000 returned ballots in the city this cycle vs. 23,000 that were returned and determined valid during the 2016 primary — and a system wholly unprepared to process them. It’s not just delayed results that are at issue: In the 12th District and in the primaries across the country, tens of thousands of mail-in ballots were invalidated for technicalities like a missing signature or a missing postmark on the envelope.

New York: Board of Elections Gears Up for Cyberattacks on November Elections |David Uberti/Wall Street Journal

New York state is training election officials on cybersecurity measures this week in the latest attempt to shore up voting systems before November. The state’s Board of Elections began a series of exercises Tuesday to simulate potential attacks on local governments such as disinformation campaigns, malware targeting voting machines and the disruption of systems that store voter registration data. The training is aimed at improving collaboration between county boards of elections and information-technology departments, said John Conklin, a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections. “There’s a little bit of tension there,” he said. “The county boards are in a much better position now than they were in 2016, and even 2018.” County election and IT officials, along with third-party vendors that supply software or other support to governments, are participating in the workshops. They comprise one prong of New York’s strategy to protect the integrity of the vote. The Board of Elections also has produced a risk assessment for each of the state’s 62 counties, created an elections task force to monitor potential threats and provided annual cybersecurity training to local officials since 2018.

New York: Lawsuit Filed Over Absentee Ballot Rejections | Morgan McKay/Spectrum News

The League of Women Voters of New York State and the League of Women Voters of the United States joined a federal lawsuit in order to limit the number of absentee ballot rejections. According to the complaint, New York rejected 14 percent of absentee ballots in 2018 and for the past two election cycles. The state’s ballot rejection rate has been among the highest in the country. “Voters need the opportunity to ensure their vote is counted and their voice is heard,” Laura Bierman, executive director for the League of Women Voters of New York State, said. “We want to make sure that when a ballot is challenged, the voter is notified and has sufficient time to correct the error.” Ballots are often rejected if there are forgotten or mismatched signatures. The main plaintiff in the lawsuit, Carmelina Palmer, a New York resident, is living through a neurological condition that causes hand tremors, and writes that she is worried her ballot will be thrown out.

New York: League of Women Voters Sues NY State Board of Elections, Alleging Serious Flaws in Absentee Ballot System | Jane Wester/New York Law Journal

The League of Women Voters sued the New York State Board of Elections Wednesday, arguing that the state’s absentee ballot procedures are woefully flawed and must be repaired. While absentee ballots have been used by a relatively small portion of New York voters in the past, absentee ballot requests skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic and are expected to represent a substantial number of ballots in November, attorneys from Selendy & Gay and the Campaign Legal Center argued in Wednesday’s filing. “If New York’s standardless process for reviewing absentee ballots and the lack of notice or opportunity to cure are permitted to continue in the 2020 November election, many more absentee voters will suffer erroneous deprivation of their right to vote,” Selendy & Gay partner Joshua Margolin wrote in the complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York. In 2018, election inspectors rejected nearly 14% of the absentee ballots cast in New York, according to the complaint. Many were rejected because of a mismatch between the voter’s ballot envelope signature and their voter registration.

New York: One Small Vote for Lockport, NY, One Giant Lesson for 2020 America | Jim Shultz/The New York Review of Books

The great debate over voting by mail has begun. President Trump has blasted it as an invitation to widespread fraud. He tweeted in June, “IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” and has warned that Democrats plan to distribute ballots to undocumented immigrants, and that foreign governments will flood our mailboxes with false ballots. On the Democratic side, Senator Amy Klobuchar, taking stock of a potential new spike of Covid-19 infections just in time for November’s presidential vote, has declared: “In a democracy, no one should be forced to choose between health and the right to vote.” April’s Wisconsin primary already offered a chilling look at what happens when going to the polls runs into a pandemic. More than seven thousand poll workers refused to work because they feared getting sick, leaving thousands of mask-clad voters standing in line for hours. On the other hand, absentee balloting leapt from 140,000 voters in 2016 to more than a million in this election—but not without glitches that left almost ten thousand voters without the ballots they had legally requested. This November’s presidential election will certainly be the most heated and consequential in a generation. What we cannot afford is for that election also to become a democratic farce amid the ravages of a pandemic. In the rising national debate over voting by mail, somewhere between the claims of fraud on one side and of panacea on the other, lies a tricky middle ground called reality: What would a nationwide election-by-mail really look like? What bumps in the road should we prepare for?

New York: New Accessible Absentee Ballots Aren’t Accessible Enough, Voters Say | Ethan Stark-Miller/City Limits

New Yorkers with disabilities had mixed reactions to the accessible absentee ballot option that the state Board of Elections (BOE) implemented for the June 23 primary. Voters with disabilities named a number of problems with their accessible absentee ballots, from them not being compatible with screen reader technology to having issues with printing the ballot and bringing it to the mailbox independently. These problems, voters with disabilities said, got in the way of them being able to vote independently and privately. “It was disappointing, in that I was not able to independently mark my ballot without (a sighted person’s) assistance,” said Meghan Parker, a legislative co-chair of the American Council of the Blind New York (ACBNY). Parker, who is blind, said she wasn’t able to mark the ballot by herself because it was incompatible with her screen-reader technology. On the other hand, Ian Foley – the other legislative co-chair for ACBNY – said he spoke with members of his organization who had positive experiences with the ballot.

New York: COVID-19 forced New York to vote by mail. Participation went through the roof | Jon Campbell/Gannett

First COVID-19 forced New York to shut down businesses and tell residents to stay home. Then it forced an experiment in democracy. With infection rates climbing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state health officials decided in March to rely heavily on voting by mail for June’s school budget votes and primary elections, encouraging New York voters to cast their ballot from their home rather than congregating in close proximity at a polling place. The results so far? Voter participation appears to be soaring, a not-so-insignificant feat for a state that has long struggled to get people to the polls. “It did not surprise us because you’re making voting more accessible,” said Dave Albert, spokesman for the state School Boards Association. “Theoretically, you wouldn’t need to leave your house to vote.”

New York: Primary Plagued By Voting Issues, Including Long Lines, Broken Machines And Absentee Ballot Mix-Ups | CBS New York

Many New Yorkers say voting in the primary Tuesday was a nightmare. Some people never got their absentee ballots, and others were waiting in line for hours. The line to vote at Bronx Regional High School snaked around the block for most of the day Tuesday. “How long do you think you waited in line to vote?” CBS2’s Ali Bauman asked Shameeka France. “Oh, two hours, easy. I came here four times,” France said. “I waited inside because it was so hot out here and it’s been a long time. It’s been a long time to wait,” Renee Alford, of Morrisania, said. “I went walking in to find out and they told me there was only five people they were letting in at the time,” Kolaco Acquindo, of Morrisania, said. Acquindo called the Board of Elections to complain about the hold-up, and they eventually sent over an employee two hours before the polls closed. In the meantime, Acquindo says people who were waiting in line to vote got so frustrated they began to leave.

New York: From COVID precautions to result delays: What to expect for Tuesday’s primary | Paul Liotta/SIlive

New Yorkers will head to the polls Tuesday for a unique primary in the era of social distancing. Safety precautions, similar to what’s been seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic, will be in place at polling centers across the city, some of which opened Saturday for early voting. According to the New York City Board of Elections, precautions include floor markers to encourage social distancing, antiviral wipes for use as needed, and masks available to voters who need one — face coverings are a requirement for voters. Polling sites will be open from 6 a.m. through 9 p.m. on primary day, but much of the voting will have already occurred with early voting and absentee ballots. As of Thursday morning, 3,814 of Staten Island’s 291,727 active registered voters had already taken advantage of their early voting options, according to unofficial data from the city BOE and voter enrollment data from the state.

New York: Advocates Sue Board of Elections to Make Absentee Voting Accessible for the Primary | Ethan Stark-Miller/City Limits

Disability rights groups sued the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) last Friday in a bid to make absentee voting accessible for voters with disabilities by the state’s June 23 primary. There was a hearing on the lawsuit Thursday morning. But the plaintiffs are already seeing some success outside of court, with the BOE passing a resolution on Wednesday to try to make PDF ballots available to some of those who request them for the primary. The groups filed the lawsuit with the Southern District of New York (SDNY), alleging the BOE is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing an accessible absentee voting system. They aim to compel the BOE to provide accessible absentee voting options to New Yorkers with disabilities, because the paper ballots the board currently uses are inaccessible to those with visual impairments and dexterity issues. This is so voters with disabilities can vote privately and independently without going to polling sites to use the accessible voting machines called ballot marking devices, which is a risk to their health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New York: Election Officials Expect Surge in Absentee Ballots for Primary | Jimmy Vielkind/Wall Street Journal

Election administrators in New York are bracing for a crush of paper ballots for the state’s June 23 primary contests as voters avoid the polls to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order in April allowing any state voter to apply for an absentee ballot, and then told county officials who administer elections that they had to mail an application for an absentee ballot to every voter with an active contest on the ballot. That includes all 6.5 million enrolled Democratic Party voters, who can vote in the party’s presidential primary, as well as voters in other parties with primaries for the U.S. House of Representatives and state and local elections. The state Board of Elections tried to reduce the amount of voting by canceling the Democratic presidential primary after former Vice President Joe Biden emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee. But a federal court overturned the board’s resolution.

New York: Lawmakers OK Email Requests For Absentee Ballots | Keshia Clukey/Bloomberg

New York state lawmakers on Thursday voted to temporarily make it easier for voters to obtain absentee ballots. The state Senate and Assembly passed legislation (S.8130D/A.10516) that would let voters apply for absentee ballots electronically and remove the signature requirement. The bill also would allow absentee ballots to be counted if they are postmarked the day of the election. Absentee ballots currently must be postmarked the day before the election. The Senate passed the legislation 39-22. The Assembly passed it on a vote of 102-41. It now heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for his consideration. The measure was one of dozens of bills passed by the state Legislature on Wednesday and Thursday in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York: Disability Equals Disenfranchisement, Lawsuit Says | Peter Slatin/Forbes

As the Trump administration and a mix of governors and state legislatures try to suppress voting by mail across the Union, a coalition of disability rights groups and citizens with disabilities is still fighting for full enfranchisement, 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The latest battleground is New York State, where the group has filed suit in the Southern District of New York against the state’s Board of Elections (BOE) for discrimination against New Yorkers with disabilities. While the state’s mail-in Absentee Voting program has recently been expanded in response to Covid-19 to enable voting by mail rather than by visiting a public polling place, no provision has been made for those who are unable to privately and independently mark a paper ballot. And although active duty military and citizens overseas can cast their votes electronically, that option is simply not allowed for the disabled. Along with several citizens, the plaintiffs’ coalition includes New York State affiliates of the National federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the Center for Independence of the Disabled, all backed by their national offices. They are represented by law firms including Disability Rights Advocates, Disability Rights New York, and Brown Goldstein Levy LLP, a leading firm in disability rights advocacy.

New York: Federal appeals court: New York must host Democratic presidential primary | Cayla Harris/Albany Times Union

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that New York must host its Democratic presidential primary on June 23. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court’s decision earlier this month that canceling the primary would be unconstitutional and deprive New Yorkers of their right to vote. The state’s Board of Elections had called off the contest in late April, citing public health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic – a move that drew swift backlash from supporters of former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders, who eventually filed the lawsuit seeking to reinstate the election. “Thrilled that democracy has prevailed for the voters of New York!” Yang, also a plaintiff in the suit, tweeted. The Board of Elections, after appealing the first decision, will not seek to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, the board’s Democratic co-Chair Doug Kellner said on Tuesday.

New York: Appeals court urged to OK June 23 presidential primary | Larry Neumeister/Associated Press

A federal appeals court should let New York’s Democratic presidential primary proceed on June 23 over the objections of the state, a lawyer for delegates said Monday. Attorney Jeffrey Kurzon filed written arguments with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear the case Friday as lawyers for the state seek to overturn a lower-court decision that concluded the cancellation of the presidential primary was unconstitutional. “To take the extraordinary action of cancelling an election, no doubt an election now in progress, would cause extreme harm to the belief in democracy in our country and that we are a republic,” Kurzon wrote. Last week, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan ordered the primary to take place on the same day other New York elections will occur, nullifying a decision by the Democratic members of the State’s Board of Elections to cancel the primary because of concerns about the coronavirus.

New York: Democrats file appeal to stop presidential primary | Associated Press

Democratic members of the state’s Board of Elections filed an appeal Wednesday of a federal judge’s reinstatement of the New York presidential primary. The appeal by board Commissioner Andrew Spano and other members comes a day after the June 23 primary was reinstated by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan, who said canceling it would be unconstitutional and deprive withdrawn presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang of proper representation at the Democratic convention. Torres said there was enough time before the primary to plan how to carry it out safely. She acknowledged that the reason it was canceled — to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — was an important state interest but said she was unconvinced it justified infringing rights. She noted that no other state had canceled its primary.

New York: State Must Hold Democratic Presidential Primary, Judge Rules | Matt Stevens and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered elections officials in New York State to hold its Democratic primary election in June and reinstate all qualifying candidates on the ballot. The ruling came after the presidential primary was canceled late last month over concerns about the coronavirus. The order, filed by Judge Analisa Torres of United States District Court, came in response to a lawsuit filed last week by the former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. He sought to undo the New York State Board of Elections’ decision in late April to cancel the June 23 contest, a move it attributed to health and safety worries and the fact that the results would not change the primary’s outcome. On Tuesday night, Douglas A. Kellner, a co-chair of the New York Board of Elections, said the board was “reviewing the decision and preparing an appeal.” And speaking on CNN, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the presidential primary would proceed per the court’s ruling at least for the time being, but he noted the potential for an appeal. Mr. Yang said in a statement on Twitter that he was “glad that a federal judge agreed that depriving millions of New Yorkers of the right to vote was wrong,” and he urged state elections officials to safeguard democracy.

New York: Democratic presidential primary on June 23 reinstated, but State appeals | Joseph Spector/Democrat & Chronicle

The Democratic presidential primary in New York is back on. A federal judge in Manhattan ruled late Tuesday that New York must hold the primary on June 23, contending that canceling it would be unconstitutional and take away the ability of the candidates to receive delegates for the party’s convention in August. Removing the candidates from the ballot and “canceling the presidential primary denied them the chance to run, and denied voters the right to cast ballots for their candidate and their political beliefs,” U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang, who argued in a lawsuit April 28 that it was illegal for New York to cancel the primary. “Yes – the people of New York will be able to vote in the Democratic presidential primary,” Yang wrote on Twitter.

New York: Judge weighs constitutionality of cancellation of New York primary | Larry Neumeister/Associated Press

Lawyers for supporters of withdrawn presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang on Monday urged a judge to overrule New York state’s decision to cancel its 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The lawyers for would-be delegates including Yang argued that the state acted unconstitutionally when it made the cancellation on April 27. The Democratic members of the State’s Board of Elections voted to cancel the presidential primary even though New York still plans to hold its congressional and state-level primaries June 23. Attorney Jeffrey Kurzon, representing Yang and others, said the case was about protecting the rights of citizens to vote. Kurzon said those who brought the lawsuits “must be protected for our democracy to survive” and asked that U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres declare the decision to cancel the democratic presidential primary unconstitutional.

New York: Can the State Run a Safe Primary in June and Accommodate Voters With Disabilities? | Ethan Stark-Miller/City Limits

When Ian Foley goes to the polls on election day he casts his ballot with a piece of assistive technology called a ballot marking device. Foley can’t use traditional paper ballots because he’s legally blind, so the ballot marking device gives him an accessible way to read and mark his ballot. “That machine will basically walk us through the ballot, each step: like ‘column one, line one: here’s the Democrat running for village council,’” Foley, who’s legislative co-chair for the American Council of the Blind New York (ACBNY), said. However, going to polling sites in June for the primaries, and possibly in November for the general election, this year is a far more dangerous proposition amid the COVID-19 crisis. The New York State Board of Elections cancelled its Democratic presidential primary for this year Monday over this very concern, citing the fact that Joe Biden is the only candidate left in the race as the reason. However, the state will still be holding a primary on June 23 for congressional and state offices.

New York: Board of Elections Cancels Democratic Presidential Primary | Stephanie Saul and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

New York officials canceled the state’s Democratic presidential primary on Monday, prompting an immediate backlash from the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and his legion of progressive supporters who had hoped to amass convention delegates and help shape the party’s platform in August. In making the decision against holding a primary, which had been scheduled for June 23, the Democratic chair of the New York State Board of Elections called the primary “essentially a beauty contest” that the state could ill-afford in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The vote followed a decision this month by Mr. Sanders to suspend his presidential campaign, effectively conceding the Democratic nomination to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Sanders had expressed a desire to remain on the ballot, however, and his supporters had launched an email, phone and Twitter campaign to persuade the elections board to go forward with the primary, calling its cancellation an affront to Democracy. On Monday, his campaign released a statement, calling the decision “an outrage, a blow to American democracy” and accused the state party of having a “checkered pattern of voter disenfranchisement.”

New York: Cuomo orders postage-paid absentee ballot applications to be sent to all New York voters | Max Greenwood/The Hill

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order Friday requiring state election officials to send postage-paid absentee ballot applications to all voters amid the coronavirus pandemic. “I am issuing an Executive Order to ensure every New York voter automatically receives a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot because no New Yorker should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Cuomo said in a statement. New York is one of more than a dozen states that requires its residents to provide an excuse to receive an absentee ballot. That changed earlier this month when Cuomo signed an executive order allowing all New Yorkers to vote absentee in the state’s June 23 primary election.  Voters will still have to request an absentee ballot ahead of the primary, but Cuomo’s executive order on Friday effectively makes that process free, taking away the need for voters to pay for postage when they return their applications for an absentee ballot.

New York: Two Covid-19 Deaths At New York City Board of Elections, And More Than A Dozen Sickened | Brigid Bergin/WNYC

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last Saturday that he would postpone the April presidential primary, staff at the New York City Board of Elections breathed a sigh of relief. Some hoped the delay meant they could stop going into the office to protect their health and the health of people still entering them. BOE staff have paid a high price for showing up to work during the pandemic. To date, 15 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the BOE’s main office in lower Manhattan, according to sources at the Board of Elections. Two people from the borough offices have died from the virus, with a third death that has not been officially linked to the disease.  While Board of Elections staff were not explicitly deemed essential workers under the governor’s earlier executive order calling for a PAUSE, the city BOE’s Executive Director Michael Ryan told Gothamist / WNYC that they had been given guidance by the State Board of Elections to continue operations. “We at the Board have a legal mandate to conduct our jobs. The continuity of government depends in part on some of the work that we’re doing,” Ryan said.

New York: Cuomo Postpones New York’s Primary Election From April 28 to June 23 | Stephanie Saul/The New York Times

New York will postpone its April 28 presidential primary until June 23, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Saturday, buying time for the state to administer an election as it struggles to respond to the escalating coronavirus outbreak. “I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote, a lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen,” Mr. Cuomo said in a news conference. “So we are going to delay that and link it to an election that was previously scheduled on June 23.” A primary for state legislative and congressional races had already been set for June 23, and now all of the state’s primary elections will be held on the same date, he said. Ten other states, as well as Puerto Rico, have rescheduled their primary elections as the campaign calendar has been upended by the outbreak, citing guidance from health officials who have urged people to avoid gathering spots, including polling places. A handful of other states have switched to voting entirely by mail and have extended deadlines for doing so. Under rules set by the Democratic National Committee, the state risks forfeiting some delegates at the national convention for voting so late in the party’s nomination cycle.

New York: Election commissioners want primary date changed | Stephen Williams/The Daily Gazette

Saying they face critical shortages of poll workers and places to vote that aren’t off-limits, the state’s county elections commissioners want the upcoming April 28 Democratic presidential primary delayed because of the spreading novel coronavirus. On Tuesday, the state Election Commissioners’ Association urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Legislature to take action as soon as possible to postpone the vote, saying deadlines for training personnel and testing voting machines ahead of the primary are approaching, and the pandemic is making it difficult to recruit poll workers. “Election boards throughout the state are risking personnel safety and health to prepare for impending elections on April 28,” the group said in a statement. “We are facing critical shortages of inspectors and polling places due to the ongoing public health crisis.” Schenectady County’s elections commissioners are having trouble getting permission to use some of the polling places they normally use, which include senior citizen centers, schools and other buildings that have been emptied as people are told to stay away to prevent virus transmission. “A lot of the locations we use say they wouldn’t be able to give us access,” said Amy Hild, Schenectady County’s Democratic election commissioner. ‘We’re having an issue with locations, and difficulty in recruiting staff to work.”

New York: Attorney general: Switch to automated absentee voting due to coronavirus | Robert Harding/Auburn Citizen

As the coronavirus outbreak continues, New York Attorney General Letitia James wants the state to suspend in-person voting and mail every registered voter an absentee ballot for the April 28 presidential primary and special elections. James supports the change because it would protect the health of poll workers and voters. She also believes it would lessen the effect on voter turnout if there’s automatic absentee voting instead of in-person voting. “Let’s make it easier for every voter to cast their vote without spreading the coronavirus and jeopardizing public health,” James said in a statement. “Democracy should not be suspended if there is a safe alternative.” Under James’ plan, Democratic voters in New York would be sent absentee ballots to vote in the state’s presidential primary on April 28. There are also five special elections to fill vacant seats, including the 50th state Senate District in the Syracuse area. All voters in those districts would receive a ballot.

New York: Officials Weigh Delaying April Primary Election Due to Coronavirus Outbreak | Stephanie Saul and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

New York officials are considering plans to postpone the state’s presidential primary election in April as fears over the coronavirus outbreak grow and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned against gatherings of more than 50 people. Douglas A. Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, confirmed on Sunday that discussions were underway about the possibility of delaying the primary from April 28 to June 23 in the interest of containing the virus’s spread, but he added that no final decision had been reached. The decision ultimately would rest with the governor and the State Legislature, he said in an interview. The discussions are underway as two states — Louisiana and Georgia — have already postponed their primaries and other states are weighing various delays or mail-in balloting measures to protect the public from exposure to the illness. Democratic Party officials in Puerto Rico, a United States territory, said they would request a postponement of their primary from March 29 to April 26. “The safety of every citizen is paramount,” the party said in a news release Sunday.

New York: Groups warn against ExpressVote XL voting machine being considered for New York | AnneMarie Durkin/The Legislative Gazette

Common Cause New York and Disability Rights New York are calling attention to new voting technologies they say will make it difficult for disabled voters to cast their ballot in upcoming elections. As the state Board of Elections is in the final stages of certifying the new machines, disability rights groups are asking the agency to reject the new machines because they say they are hard to read, can be confusing for those who are hard of hearing, are expensive and they are prone to undercounting votes. The voting machines, ExpressVoteXL, operate as a touch-screen machine and are completely technology centered, as opposed to the traditional paper-ballot voting system that has been in place up until now. Common Cause/NY also dropped off thousands of petitions from New Yorkers across the state against the machine. The New York State Board of Elections is currently in the final stages before it does, or does not, certify the new voting machine. Common Cause says that the company that makes the machine has spent more than $600,000 lobbying New York state officials. Common Cause released a report that details reasons they say the machine should not be used in the upcoming elections.