Groups Say Let Displaced Voters Use Affidavit Ballots

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

November 5, 2012


Groups Say Let Displaced Voters Use Affidavit Ballots

More Than 30 Groups Join with Election Protection in Letter to Cuomo

The Election Protection Coalition, Common Cause/NY and numerous other groups sent Governor Cuomo a letter on Saturday, asking him to take emergency action to address the problems Hurricane Sandy has created for voters on Election Day. The groups call on the Governor to immediately issue an executive order allowing displaced New Yorkers who are unable to get to their assigned polling place to be permitted to cast an affidavit ballot at any polling place within New York State. As of this morning, Governor Cuomo has not yet replied. The text of the letter appears at the end of this release or can be accessed here.

This inaction contrasts with the actions taken over the week-end by the State of New Jersey, which issued a directive establishing that “A displaced voter may vote by provisional ballot at any polling place in the State [ of New Jersey]. The directive may be found here.

“This is a straightforward and practical solution to a difficult problem facing too many voters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. Everything possible must be done to insure that eligible voters who want to vote are able to do so,” stated Susan Lerner, Common Cause/NY Executive Director. “We urge the Governor to issue an Executive Order permitting displaced voters to cast an affidavit ballot at any polling place within New York State,” she concluded.

“Sandy wreaked havoc on communities across New York, but the Governor can help make sure it doesn’t wreak havoc on tomorrow’s election with this action,” said Neal Rosenstein, Election Specialist for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “With so many poll site closures and changes, allowing voters to cast an affidavit ballot at any site is a vital and common sense move,” he added.

“We commend election officials around the state for their extraordinary effort to ensure that local polling places are up and running on Tuesday. Unfortunately, for thousands of displaced New Yorkers and first responders, traveling back to their local polling place will not be possible. Giving these voters the opportunity to cast an affidavit ballot that can be counted is the right thing to do,” said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at The Brennan Center for Justice.

“We must do everything we can to ensure every voter is allowed to vote tomorrow. Voters displaced by the hurricane or those who have not been informed of last minute poll site changes should be allowed to vote with paper ballots at any poll site. We call on Governor Cuomo to make these changes immediately. Hurricane Sandy has caused enough damage; let’s not let it damage our democracy,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, which coordinates a non-partisan, multi-ethnic Immigrants Vote! Campaign to increase civic engagement of new American voters.

“Sandy has taken so much from New Yorkers, but the right to vote should not be one of them,” said Eric Marshall, Manager of Legal Mobilization at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, “we applaud the State for the actions they have taken thus far, but allowing voters to cast an affidavit ballot out of precinct will give New Yorkers the flexibility they need during these trying times.”