Cuomo orders postage-paid absentee ballot applications to be sent to all New York voters

Cuomo orders postage-paid absentee ballot applications to be sent to all New York voters
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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' New York to honor Ginsburg with statue in Brooklyn New York City bus driver knocked out by passenger he told to wear a mask MORE (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. 

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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 has emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. More than 271,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded in the state, Cuomo’s office announced on Friday.

New York was slated to hold its presidential primary on April 28. But Cuomo announced late last month that the contest would be postponed until June 23 to coincide with the state’s legislative and congressional primaries.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a new national debate over voting in the midst of a public health crisis, with Democrats and voting rights advocates largely leading calls for states to expand mail-in voting programs as a way to mitigate the risks of in-person voting during the outbreak.

Those calls have received pushback from Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE, who has claimed that vote-by-mail programs carry a high risk of fraud and lend an unfair structural advantage to Democrats. 

Experts have largely dismissed those claims, noting that voter fraud in all forms is exceedingly rare and that there’s little if any evidence to suggest that mail-in voting benefits one party over another.