Coronavirus Daily Update: Gov. Signs Election Reforms for COVID-19, Extends Moratorium on Commercial Evictions

By Christian Nolan

August 20, 2020

Coronavirus Daily Update: Gov. Signs Election Reforms for COVID-19, Extends Moratorium on Commercial Evictions


By Christian Nolan

Good afternoon Members,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today signed election reforms into law that he says will make it easier for New Yorkers to vote during the pandemic.

The three-part package includes new measures allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to the Board of Elections immediately, permitting a voter to get an absentee ballot due to risk or fear of contracting COVID-19 and ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day – or received by the Board of Elections without a postmark on the day after the election – will be counted. Ballots with a postmark demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by Nov. 10.

  • Legislation relating to absentee ballot requests (S.8783A/A.10807) authorizes voters to request absentee ballots immediately, adding almost seven weeks to the amount of time a voter has to vote by absentee ballot. This legislation eliminates an outdated statutory provision that prevents voters from requesting absentee ballots until 30 days before Election Day. Cuomo says the legislation gives voters reassurance that they will receive and can cast their vote in a timely manner.
  • Legislation relating to absentee ballot requests due to risk of illness (S.8015-D/A.10833) gives voters the right to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness to themselves or others.
  • Legislation relating to ballots postmarked on Election Day (S.8799A/A.10808-A) allows ballots to be postmarked on the day of the election, November 3. The legislation also amends election law to allow the Board of Elections to count all absentee ballots that have a time stamp showing they were delivered to the Board of Elections the day after the election but does not have a dated postmark. The Board of Elections shall deem those ballots mailed in a timely fashion.

Commercial Evictions Moratorium Extended

Cuomo also signed today an executive order extending the state’s moratorium on coronavirus-related commercial evictions and foreclosures an additional month, until Sept. 20.

This measure extends protections already in place for commercial tenants and mortgagors in recognition of the financial toll the pandemic has taken on business owners, including retail establishments and restaurants. The extension of this protection gives commercial tenants and mortgagors additional time to get back on their feet and catch up on rent or renegotiate their leasing terms to avoid eviction proceedings and foreclosures moving forward.

Cuomo first announced a state moratorium on residential and commercial evictions on March 20 to ensure no tenant was evicted during the height of the public health emergency. The commercial eviction and foreclosure moratorium was extended through Aug. 20 by executive order, and Cuomo signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act and additional legislation to protect residential renters and homeowners from foreclosure or eviction due to a COVID-19 financial hardship. Cuomo also ordered additional protection for residential renters from charges for late payment of rent and to allow residential tenants to use security deposits to pay rent.

Senate Hearing on Court Reopening Tomorrow

A joint state Senate committee hearing is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21, at 10 a.m. to examine the reopening and operation of New York’s courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hearing will provide an opportunity to examine the status of proceedings and the ability to file new matters in the courts, consider measures taken by the state court system to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at in-person proceedings, ascertain the unique impacts on individuals of legal proceedings during the pandemic and contemplate additional potential plans and actions.

The virtual public hearing is a joint session with the following Senate standing committees: Judiciary; Codes; and Housing, Construction and Community Development.

Click here for more information including written testimony. Click here for the witness list.

Emergency Task Force Survey

NYSBA’s Emergency Task Force for Solo and Small Firm Practitioners would like to know your experiences with virtual court and client interactions. Please complete the following short survey by August 28th.

COVID-19 Webinars

Friday, Aug. 21 – Grand Jury Presentations & Representing Clients in Grand Jury – NYSBA Trial Academy Virtual Conference.

Wednesday, Aug. 26 – Occupancy Limitation Update: Clarification from New York State Regarding Reopening.

Tuesday, Sept. 1 – Reopening Schools: Legal Issues and Concerns.

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