Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order that will greatly facilitate voting for New Yorkers who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Executive Order provides for any voter who is registered in a federally-declared disaster county to vote on an affidavit ballot at any poll site in New York State, regardless of where they are registered. In addition, the Executive Order also mandates every board of elections in New York State to send such affidavit ballot to the board of elections where the voter is actually registered, so that the vote is counted in the correct place. Such a vote will count for the office of President and United States Senator and for any other candidate and ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot where the voter is registered.
First responders and emergency workers involved in the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts are also included in the Executive Order if they reside in one of the federally-declared disaster counties.
New Yorkers should attempt to vote at their regular polling place. If they cannot reach their polling site or their site is shutdown, only then should they vote at an alternative site. The only votes that will count are the votes that voters would have legally been allowed to cast at their regular polling site.
The federally-declared disaster counties include: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.
Hurricane Sandy has already disrupted the lives of countless New Yorkers, but we will not let it disrupt anyone seeking to exercise the most fundamental of democratic rights: the right to vote, said Governor Cuomo. Even in times of great tragedy and suffering, New Yorkers understand that we must continue to do all that we can to maintain the integrity of our system. That is why the State is making every effort to ensure that voters who are displaced from their homes because of the storm will still be able to make their voices heard on Election Day.
The County Boards of Elections (CBEs) were directed to use all available means to:
- Provide notice to election inspectors and post the provisions of the Executive Order conspicuously on the boards websites and at poll sites in New York State giving instruction on how to implement such Order;
- Instruct poll workers to provide affidavit ballots and guidance to voters in accordance with the Order
- Provide notice and guidance to voters in accordance with this Executive Order that indicates that
- voters who reside in the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester, or in New York City may receive and complete an affidavit ballot at any polling place in New York State
- the voters vote will count for the office of President and United States Senator and it will also count for any other candidate for office and district as well as any ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot in the voters home district.
For example, a voter staying with family in Orange County who was displaced from Westchester, would be entitled to vote for statewide contests and Supreme Court (because those 2 counties share a judicial district) and possibly a Congressional or State Senate contest. A voter who sought refuge further upstate might be eligible to vote only in the statewide contests, as they would share no other offices/contests.
Below is the text of the Executive Order:
E X E C U T I V E O R D E R
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE ELECTION LAW
WHEREAS, on October 26, 2012, I issued Executive Order Number 47, declaring a disaster emergency in all 62 counties in the State of New York; and
WHEREAS, New York State is firmly committed to holding a fair and accessible general election and maximizing voter participation in this election; and
WHEREAS, Hurricane Sandy has struck a deadly blow, destroying lives, countless houses and businesses, displacing thousands of New Yorkers from their homes, disrupting transportation, the flow of commerce and daily life and complicating even the simplest and most routine acts of living; and
WHEREAS, New Yorkers who are victims of Hurricane Sandy should not lose their right to vote; and
WHEREAS, it is incumbent upon the State not to let this devastation undermine our democracy, and to actively facilitate the exercise of the fundamental, constitutional right to vote of registered voters who reside in the federally declared counties who have been impacted and displaced by Hurricane Sandy;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to temporarily suspend and otherwise alter or modify specific provisions of any statute, local law, ordinance, orders, rules or regulations, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such provisions would prevent, hinder or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster, hereby temporarily suspend and otherwise alter or modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order until further notice, the following:
Section 8-302 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise altered and modified so that a voter seeking to vote by affidavit ballot need not affirm that such voter is duly registered in the election district in which such voter seeks to cast an affidavit ballot if such voter is registered to vote within one of the federally declared counties or New York City.
Section 9-209 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise modified so that every board of elections in the State shall transmit the affidavit or provisional ballot of any voter who resides in one of the federally declared counties to the board of elections wherein such voter is registered to vote to be canvassed with other affidavit and absentee ballots for the election district wherein the voter resides.
Subparagraph (iii) of Paragraph (a) of Subdivision 2 of Section 9-209 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise altered and modified so that the board of elections for the county in which such voter resides shall cast and canvass such ballot, if it determines that such voter was entitled to vote regardless of the fact that the voter may have appeared in the incorrect polling place, provided that such vote shall not be cast and canvassed for such contests for which the person was not entitled to vote at such election.
FURTHER, the State Board of Elections shall promptly instruct county boards of elections on the proper implementation of this Executive Order including requiring such boards:
- to instruct poll workers to provide affidavit ballots and guidance to voters; and
- to provide notice and guidance to voters in accordance with this Executive Order: (a) that indicatesthat voters who reside in the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester, or in New York City may receive and complete an affidavit ballot at any polling place in New York State; and (b) that the voters vote will count for the office of President and United States Senator and it will also count for any other candidate for office and district as well as any ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot in the voters home district.
Notice of this Executive Order and its contents shall be provided by the State Board of Elections on its website and by boards of elections, at a minimum, at every poll site and on any website maintained by such boards.
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the
State in the City of Albany this fifth day
of November in the year two thousand twelve.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor