Landmark NY mail-in voting expansion faces Republican lawsuit

It’s a major expansion of voting rights here in New York, and it comes with national implications.

"We think it’s a big deal," Blair Horner, the New York Public Interest Research Group Executive Director explained.

The February 13th special election to replace disgraced Congressman George Santos in New York’s 3rd Congressional district will be the first real test of a new law allowing New Yorkers to vote early by mail.

And this election has a chance of narrowing Republicans' hold on the House.

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"New York is still below the national average in voter participation in presidential years and even in off years," Horner said. "So we're hoping it'll improve voter participation."

However, a group of about a dozen Republicans led by Representatives Nicole Malliotakis and Elise Stefanik are suing the state of New York and Governor Kathy Hochul over this new law set to go into effect on January 1st.

Filed immediately after Hochul signed the bill, this lawsuit alleges that allowing voters to cast a mail-in ballot without an excuse is unconstitutional.

Now Republicans are asking the court for a preliminary injunction in hopes of stalling this law from going into effect.

"I want everyone to vote, but I also want everyone's vote to count the same and it doesn't count the same if some people cheat in the process," Former Congressman John Faso of NY-19 said.

Former Representative Faso pointed out how voters two years ago rejected a ballot proposition that would have changed the constitution to allow for no excuse mail-in voting.

Right now New York’s constitution states that a voter can only use a mail-in ballot if they have an illness or a physical disability. But it says nothing about early voting.

Faso says that Democrats are just trying to create a loophole.

"The Constitution is not just a suggestion, it's a requirement," Faso said. "And I fear that what Democrats are doing here is really just simply a way to get around those constitutional requirements without going through the requirement of a getting the voters to amend the Constitution."

States like Oregon use a full-mail vote system where anyone can mail in a ballot without needing to request one.

According to the United States Election Assistance Commission, during last year’s election, 62 percent of voters cast a ballot in Oregon compared to 42 percent here in New York.