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New York Appeals Absentee Ballot Rule With Election Looming

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 officials appealed a judge’s ruling against inspecting absentee ballots before Election Day, allowing early counting of those ballots to go ahead pending an appeals court decision.

A state judge in upstate New York on Friday said the pandemic-related rule that allowed absentee ballots to be prepared for counting before Election Day was unconstitutional. Saratoga County Judge Diane Freestone sided with Republican and Conservative party plaintiffs in ruling that the law clashes with an individual’s constitutional right to challenge ballots in court before they’re counted.

The state attorney general and legislative officials appealed by Monday, setting up an automatic, temporary hold on the ruling. The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Albany will hear oral arguments next Tuesday, one week before Election Day.

Freestone declined to strike down a law allowing voters worried about catching COVID-19 to vote absentee.

The plaintiffs also are appealing.

Democrats had argued that the rules were crucial to ensuring the state can handle the number of people who want to vote by mail because of the ongoing pandemic.

The case could ultimately be determined by the state’s top court, the Court of Appeals.

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