Board of Elections gaffe may nullify New York soldiers' overseas absentee ballots
BY THOMAS M. DEFRANK, RICHARD SISK AND LUKAS I. ALPERT DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Monday, October 11th 2010, 2:02 PM
Sen. Charles Schumer blasted Board of Elections officials Monday for blowing a deadline for sending ballots to troops overseas - putting their chance to vote at risk.
"Our troops sacrifice their lives to protect our freedoms. They should never, ever be denied the right to vote," Schumer said.
There are approximately 50,000 New York City residents serving overseas - and 320,000 statewide.
Elections officials were originally supposed to ship the ballots to troops by Sept. 17. Because New York primaries were held Sept. 14, the federal government granted local officials an extension until Oct. 1.
But the state Board of Elections last week informed the Department of Defense that officials in New York City, Westchester, Putnam, Erie and Niagara Counties had failed to send the ballots by the Oct. 1 deadline.
The federal MOVE Act, a bill Schumer sponsored that passed in 2009, requires states to mail ballots to troops 45 days before the general election, scheduled this year for Nov. 2.
Absentee votes are counted until 13 days after election day.
Schumer said that sending ballots via regular mail can take up to 13 days, so he urged election officials to send them using overnight delivery to ensure that military votes are counted.
"Put these ballots on the next plane to Afghanistan," Schumer said. "There is absolutely no excuse for failing to get this done."
The state board of elections did not immediately return a call. A spokeswoman for the city Board of Elections had no immediate comment.