ALBANY (WCBS 880) — A top Democrat in the New York State Senate on Tuesday introduced legislation that would speed up the election process in the state.
One week after Election Day, dozens of local races have yet to be determined as absentee ballots remain unopened because of state law that mandates officials must wait seven days to count them.
“We were all wondering why Georgia and Pennsylvania took so long to finish their counts – it took them three or four days past the election – we haven't even started counting the ballots in New York yet,” said Queens Sen.
His legislation would enable election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots on Election Day moving forward.
In New York, more than 1.5 million absentee ballots were sent in amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving dozens of local races in a state of limbo.
Gianaris says the wait is unacceptable and notes that if New York was a swing state, it would be an international scandal how slow the process is.
“People don't notice it as much because it's not a factor in the presidential contest but, we have, I think seven congressional races that are up in the air, eight state Senate races, about a dozen Assembly races,” the Queens senator said. "They're going to take weeks for it to resolve.”
Election Day results showed several Republicans with large leads over incumbent Democrats, including on Staten Island where freshman Congressman Max Rose is fighting for re-election in New York City’s most conservative district.
Though, the State Board of Elections says over 930,000 ballots were mailed in by Democrats, while Republicans sent in just over 260,000.
Counting could continue for days as absentee ballots are finally opened, but Gianaris’ legislation would expedite the process significantly by allowing those ballots to be counted on Election Day and for canvassing to start three hours before the polls close.