Legislation sponsored by Senator George Borrello to prohibit advances in ballot harvesting through the Senate Elections Committee

ALBANY, NYA measure sponsored by Sen. George Borrello that would ban the fraudulent practice of ballot harvesting was advanced today by the Senate Elections Committee, marking a first for the election integrity bill.

“Ballet harvesting is a practice that is incredibly vulnerable to abuse and has been implicated in several known cases of voter fraud. New York is one of the few states that does not have legal restrictions on this practice, which should concern everyone who believes election integrity is important,” said Senator Borrello.

Ballot harvesting is the practice of allowing any person to collect and return an unlimited number of absentee or mail-in ballots without oversight or documented chain of custody.

Senator Borrello explained that his legislation, Article 1116would make the practice of ballot harvesting “unlawful” and a class D felony, except in cases where the mail-in ballot was submitted on the voter’s behalf by a family member, caregiver with notarized consent, or an electoral official, a postal employee or a delivery person. courier exercising his legal functions.

The bill also specifies that applications for absentee ballots must be submitted by a family member or an individual authorized by written and notarized consent to submit the application on behalf of the voter.

Senator Borrello noted that some of the more recent scandals involving ballot harvesting included:

  • November 2022 – A Staten Island grand jury identified numerous cases of ballot harvesting fraud in a city council race, including a ballot submitted in the name of a deceased person and signature fraud involving dozens of other absentee ballots. The unprecedented 38-page grand jury report released by Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon called for changes to state election law, including requiring government-issued identification to vote.

  • December 2023 – The Queens District Attorney has filed charges against an individual for submitting falsified absentee ballot applications for the August 2022 Democratic primary election. The defendant allegedly went to the Queens County Board of Elections and filed 118 requests for absentee ballots and reportedly collected the ballots the next day. . An investigation later revealed that the voters listed on the ballot applications did not submit the forms or authorize the suspect to collect the ballots for them.
  • January 2023 – A former Rensselaer County elections commissioner pleaded guilty to using voters’ personal information to illegally obtain 2021 absentee ballots.

“We have made conditions in New York State particularly ripe for voter fraud with recently passed legislation that allows early mail voting. This will increase the opportunities for ballot harvesting in New York elections and, at the same time, the opportunities for bad actors to commit fraud. We can help save this process by enacting my legislation that would end free-for-all ballot harvesting,” said Senator Borrello.

“The cornerstone of our representative democracy is that voters have confidence in the fair and secure nature of our elections. Ballot harvesting dangerously undermines that trust, which is why I will continue to advocate for the passage of this measure,” said Senator Borrello.