NY Law Allowing Early Counting of Absentee Ballots in Limbo

absentee ballot
The Federal Voting Assistance Program provides military members a chance to cast an absentee ballot.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker

New York State’s plan to start counting absentee ballots early hit a roadblock Friday when a state judge ruled the law unconstitutional.

Saratoga County Judge Diane Freestone said the law clashes with an individual’s constitutional right to challenge ballots in court before they’re counted.

It was unclear immediately Friday if New York Democrats would appeal the decision. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

State GOP chair Nick Langworthy on Friday called the judge’s decision a win for election integrity.

In 2020, delays, litigation and mistakes by election boards that faced a flood of absentee ballots led to long waits for election results.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature eventually passed a law allowing for early counting of absentee voting.

Republicans sued in state court to strike down the law.

Democrats defended the law as crucial to ensuring the state can handle the number of people wanting to apply by mail because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans are also suing to strike down a law allowing voters worried about catching COVID-1-9 to vote by absentee.