State Democrats send voters pre-filled absentee ballot applications, GOP calls it ‘dishonest’

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 4:55 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - State Democrats say they are looking to increase voter participation. Republican officials say it’s “dirty tricks.” The letter in question could already be in your mailbox.

New York state Democrats are targeting registered Democratic voters by mail, hoping to get them to vote this November.

The letter sent out contained a pre-filled application for an absentee ballot. Not only are the voter’s name, address, and party affiliation filled in, but so is their excuse for not voting in person due to what the form calls Covid-19 concern.

“The information we give that is available is their name and their address and their party. We don’t want people to feel like they can’t come out and vote because they’re worried about catching Covid,” said Michelle LaFave, Democratic commissioner, Jefferson County Board of Elections.

The mailer has drawn the attention of Republicans at the state level. New York State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said “it’s outright dishonest by pre-checking their reason for needing an absentee ballot.” Dishonest maybe, but local Republican officials acknowledge that it is not illegal.

“Nothing that is being done here is illegal. If the individual signs the application, it does not matter that it was pre-filled out. It does not matter that the excuse was pre-filled out. They are attesting to the fact that all the information is correct and they are sending it in to us,” said Jude Seymour, Republican commissioner, Jefferson County Board of Elections.

What will the letter accomplish?

“What I think the Democratic committee is trying to engage - is engage people that maybe weren’t going to vote, weren’t going to make that effort. Now, because of the convenience of being able to vote at their own home, they’re going to take advantage of that,” said Seymour.

“Our main focus and our main concern are with the voter. We just want to make sure that everybody who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to vote. We want to make sure that it is easy for them to vote, and that they don’t get disenfranchised at all,” said LaFave.

In the end, will any of this make a difference? Maybe not.

Officials we were able to speak with believe the absentee ballots will likely just shift the way people cast their vote from at the polls to in their own homes.