Stefanik’s mail-in voting lawsuit gets thrown out

Rep. Elise Stefanik’s bid to get the courts to toss out the state’s recently enacted early mail voting system was dealt another defeat on Thursday when a unanimous panel of appellate court justices ruled the program is legal and proper.

Stefanik, with support from the state GOP committee, filed suit in Albany against Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Board of Elections in September.

She argued that the legislation was improper because it didn’t change New York’s voting rules with a constitutional amendment.

In 2021, the GOP successfully convinced New Yorkers to vote down a proposed amendment that would have expanded absentee ballot voting and stopped requiring an excuse for voters to get an absentee ballot.

While Republicans including Stefanik have argued that the move made in New York in 2023 to expand mail-in voting was a direct refutation of the majority voters in 2021, and that the legislature failed to properly enact the expanded mail-in voting measure with a constitutional amendment, two rungs of New York’s legal system have disagreed with that assessment.

“We conclude that universal mail-in voting does not violate Article 11 of the NY constitution, and was properly implemented through legislative enactment,” the appeals court’s decision reads.

“We recognize that a proposed constitutional amendment to authorize no-excuse voting was not ratified by the electorate at the November 2, 2021 election … Even so, that the Legislature, in first proposing the amendment in 2010, may have assumed that a constitutional amendment was necessary to implement universal mail-in voting does not make it so.”

Stefanik response

The decision was unanimous across the five-justice panel that reviewed the case.

In a statement, Stefanik said she plans to appeal the ruling again, this time to the Court of Appeals, while also attacking the courts as politically partial to Democrats.

“New York Democrats are illegally jamming through an unconstitutional law that harms election integrity, all while our far left Democrat-run courts go right along with it,” she said. “Democrats’ political weaponization of the courts must end, and we look forward to appealing this ruling to the highest court in our state.”

Stefanik made a similar argument about the validity of election processes in 2020, when she voted to reject the presidential election results from Pennsylvania.

Then, and still today, she argued that the Pennsylvania legislature did not properly alter its constitution to expand absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many states authorized at least some changes to the voting process to reduce person-to-person contact, and argued that invalidated the Pennsylvania results altogether.

The courts in Pennsylvania have rejected lawsuits filed on that premise.

Meanwhile, the mail-in early voting system in New York continues its rollout.

The option was available in the presidential primaries held in April, and also used in a special election on Long Island to replace Rep. George Santos after he was removed from Congress.


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