(The Center Square) — New York Republicans are suing Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing a bill on Wednesday authorizing mail voting in federal, state and local elections.
Hochul signed a package of voting access bills on Wednesday that will authorize registered voters to vote early using a mail-in ballot and same-day registration, among other changes.
Shortly after Hochul signed the bill, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court with the New York state Republican Party, Conservative Party, and other members of the New York’s Republican House delegation, seeking to block the new law.
“Kathy Hochul and extreme New York Democrats are trying to destroy what is left of election integrity in New York,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Under Kathy Hochul’s failed leadership, elections are less secure and less transparent and now they will be unconstitutional.”
Besides Stefanik, Republican Reps. Nicole Malliotakis, Peter King and Claudia Tenney signed on to the legal challenge, along with the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In the lawsuit, lawyers for the Republicans and other plaintiffs argue that the mail voting law violates the portion of the state constitution that governs absentee voting and amounts to an end run around New York voter’s rejection of a 2021 ballot question that would have amended the constitution to allow for “no-excuse” absentee voting.
Under current law, New York voters can cast absentee mail ballots if they are out of the state or country on Election Day, are sick, taking care of someone who is sick, or incarcerated.
“The Mail-Voting Law was enacted by the Legislature in open and knowing defiance of (state election laws), ignoring and subverting the will of the people whom the Legislature is supposed to represent,” they wrote in a 23-page complaint. “Accordingly, the Mail-Voting Law should be declared unconstitutional and the defendants should be enjoined both preliminarily and permanently from implementing or enforcing that act in any respect.”
Hochul told reporters at a bill signing that the new law is “unrelated” to the ballot question and vowed that the courts would uphold it despite the legal challenge.
“I want to be very clear, the new law that we signed today is unrelated to absentee voting,” Hochul told reporters. “This is simply allowing vote-by-mail during the early voting period.”
The measure’s primary sponsor, state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, ripped the lawsuit in a statement and labeled the lawmakers who filed it “Trump loyalists and insurrection apologists.”
“Their disdain for our democracy is well-established but we will not cede this critical ground to them as we continue to make it easier for people to vote and participate in choosing their government,” he said in a statement.
But Republicans argued that the law defies New York voters by pushing forward with an “unconstitutional attack” on the state’s mail-in voting safeguards.
“The people of New York resoundingly rejected this attempt to weaken the integrity of our election process, and I am confident it will once again be rejected by the courts,” state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said in a statement.