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Groups Say Let Displaced Voters Use Affidavit Ballots


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York City  (Monday, November 5, 2012)

Groups Say Let Displaced Voters Use Affidavit Ballots

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

(New York, NY) 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."


November 3, 2012

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Governor Cuomo:

We have been heartbroken to watch the destruction Hurricane Sandy wrought on our state. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the people of New York.

The loss of power and displacement of citizens so close to Election Day has raised questions and concerns from New Yorkers and our members. The right to vote is fundamental and must be protected, especially during this state of emergency. We appreciate all of the efforts being made to open alternative polling locations and provide generators to the sites without power.

However, there are still uncertainties regarding mass transit operations, and the gas shortages have made transportation more difficult. New Yorkers are staying in shelters and with family and friends throughout the state. In these extraordinary circumstances we request a loosening of the affidavit ballot rules.

We, the undersigned, request an executive order allowing displaced New Yorkers who are unable to access their assigned polling station to be permitted to cast an affidavit ballot at polling places out of precinct and out of county. After Election Day, the eligibility of each voter and ballot can be determined. At a minimum, for each office and measure the voter is eligible to cast a vote, the ballot should be counted. We understand that this is a departure from normal procedures, but extraordinary circumstances call for bold action to ensure that every eligible

New Yorker's right to vote is not taken away by a natural disaster.

As the election is Tuesday, November 6th, we respectfully request an immediate reply.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Common Cause/New York
League of Women Voters of New York
New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG)
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Civil Liberties Union
Arab American Association of New York
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)
Chhaya CDC
El Centro del Inmigrante
Hudson Valley Community Coalition
Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc.
Korean Americans for Political Advancement
La Fuente
MinKwon Center for Community Action
National Network for Arab American Communities
New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)
New York State Immigrant Action Fund
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
Queens Community House
Russian American Voters Educational League (RAVEL)
Taking Our Seat
Westchester Hispanic Coalition
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
La Fuente
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Long Island Civic Engagement Table
Latino Justice
Chinese Progressive Association
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD)
Rockland Immigration Coalition
Tenants Political Action Committee
cc: New York State Board of Elections



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