The law, enacted in 2022, says that “In no event may a court order a ballot that has been counted to be uncounted.” New York Supreme Court Justice Dianne Freestone ruled in October that the clause violated the Constitution and ordered all election boards in the state to segregate absentee ballots and hold them until a post-Election Day canvass.
The New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division vacated that order, ruling that Republicans who challenged the law waited too long, and that granting them relief would disrupt the midterm election.
“Petitioners commenced this proceeding/action challenging the constitutionality of the new process of canvassing absentee ballots in Election Law § 9-209 nine months after it was enacted, after the process was in effect for two primary elections and several special elections, and at the time that canvassing of absentee ballots using the new process began in the 2022 general election,” the court said.
More than 488,000 absentee ballots were already mailed as of Oct. 24 and more than 127,00 had been returned, with many having been reviewed and counted.
That means granting relief “would result in voters being treated differently during this election depending on when they returned their ballots,” the court said.
“In our view, granting petitioners the requested relief during an ongoing election would be extremely disruptive and profoundly destabilizing and prejudicial to candidates, voters and the State and local Boards of Elections. Under these circumstances, petitioners’ delay in bringing this proceeding/action precludes the constitutional challenges in this election cycle, and warrants dismissal of the petition/complaint based upon laches,” it added.
Laches means an unreasonable delay in bringing a claim.
The court reversed Freestone’s order, and vacated it.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, celebrated the decision.
“We should be taking every step possible to empower voters and ease New Yorkers’ access to the polls. I was proud to defend New York’s absentee ballot reforms, and am happy with the decision to keep these commonsense election integrity initiatives in place,” James said in a statement. “As Attorney General, I will always fight against efforts to infringe on the right to vote and make it harder for New Yorkers to make their voices heard.”
The New York State Republican Party, one of the Republican groups that challenged the law, did not return a request for comment.
From The Epoch Times