Democratic lawmakers on Monday called for the placement of drop boxes for voters to leave absentee ballots amid skepticism the U.S. Postal Service is up to the task of the timely delivery of mail as Election Day approaches.
Legislation by Sens. Brad Hoylman, Rachel May and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried would allow for the placement of drop boxes around the state. Similar arrangements have already been in place in 33 states.
New York voters this year are expected to cast a wave of absentee ballots after Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a bill essentially ending the list of excuses for requesting one by allowing concern over contracting the coronavirus as reason for obtaining one.
But the absentee ballots would be put in the mail amid doubts surrounding the postal service. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has come under scrutiny from Democrats in Congress over changes to the postal service being made this year critics contend has slowed delivery.
“We owe it to all New Yorkers to make sure that their vote gets counted this November," May said. "The continued threat of COVID-19 means that a record number of absentee ballots are expected this fall and yet we see the federal government actively dismantling the service on which these ballots rely: the United States Postal Service. One way we can promote safe, fast, and efficient voting, without worrying about postal issues, is to allow folks to drop their ballots off in secure drop boxes around their communities."
DeJoy has pledged to put the changes on hold; labor leaders for the postal service unions, including letter carriers and postal workers themselves, have said workers can handle the volume of absentee and mail-in ballots this November.
The drop boxes, however, would allow New York voters an additional location to cast their ballot. Voters now can leave their absentee ballot at a local Board of Elections.
“New York won’t allow Donald Trump’s relentless attempts to undermine our elections and spread misinformation to succeed," Hoylman said. "As his administration’s attacks on the USPS create postal delays across the country and New York grapples with historic numbers of absentee ballots, we need to ensure New Yorkers that their votes will be counted."