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Electronic Ballot Return Demonstration Briefing

NY electronic ballot return

On September 6, 2023, SFI hosted a briefing and demonstration on electronic ballot return in support of New York Senate Bill 5729 / Assembly Bill 5280. S5729/A05280 reduces barriers to voting for active duty servicemembers, their families, and voters with disabilities by expanding Electronic Ballot Return to eligible voters in New York. 

The briefing educated members and coalition groups about S. 5729 and A. 5280, answered questions about how the system works, and addressed the security of electronic ballot return. Notably, Democracy Live and Enhanced Voting demonstrated electronic ballot return.

Speakers included:

    • Rasheta Bunting, National Federation of the Blind of New York
    • Lou Ann Blake, National Federation of the Blind
    • Rebecca Nowatchik, Director of External Partnerships, Secure Families Initiative
    • Bryan Finney, President of Democracy Live
    • Aaron Wilson, Founder and President of Enhanced Voting

    Watch the Briefing

    Take Action

    It is time for New York to join its neighbors and remove unnecessary obstacles to voting. Join with other New York voters and make your voice heard by signing the petition.

    Petition Language:

    Dear Members of the New York State Legislature, 

    New York has established a reputation as one of the most pro-democracy states in the nation with reforms designed to ensure all voters can participate in elections. Allowing electronic ballot return will further this effort by addressing persistent barriers to voting. 

    For the nearly two million New Yorkers with a disability, voting remains far too challenging and inaccessible. In-person voting equipment is often difficult to navigate independently, and transportation barriers coupled with inaccessible polling sites make casting a ballot in-person difficult. Voting by mail is also inaccessible, especially for voters who are blind or print disabled. Recently, a federal court ordered the state Board of Elections to begin offering an accessible absentee ballot by electronic delivery for voters with disabilities. But this option requires voters to print a ballot at home. Voters who are blind and print disabled typically have no printers and cannot independently handle a paper ballot, leaving them still in need of assistance to complete the ballot return process. 

    Similarly, New York has one of the highest percentages of military and overseas citizen voters in the U.S., yet they face tremendous obstacles to receiving and returning ballots by mail and consequently have some of the lowest participation rates – and highest ballot rejection rates. Electronic ballot delivery options have helped address some of these barriers, but without electronic return, far too many New Yorkers are left without the ability to successfully vote. This important legislation will make absentee voting more convenient and accessible for New Yorkers who face some of the most significant obstacles to voting.

    Electronic ballot return is already in use in a majority of states, including Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. A total of 32 states plus the District of Columbia permit at least military service members to return a ballot electronically, often by email or fax. Of those, 13 states expanded eligibility to voters with disabilities in order to make absentee voting fully accessible for all voters.

    We urge you to advance legislation that enables electronic ballot return for military service-members and their families, voters with eligible disabilities and overseas voters. It is time for New York to join its neighbors and remove unnecessary obstacles to voting.

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