Resource: League of Women Voters of the U.S. v. Kosinski

By: COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker

October 22, 2020

Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

Facts/Claims: The League of Women’s Voters of the United States, the League of Women’s Voters of New York, and an individual voter sued Commissioners and Executive Directors of the New York State Board of Elections, alleging the State’s absentee voting procedures unconstitutionally violate (i) due process under the 14th Amendment by failing to provide voters whose absentee ballots are rejected with notice and opportunity to be heard (i.e., to challenge and cure the rejection), (ii) the fundamental right to vote in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments (e.g., by allowing absentee ballots to be rejected because election inspectors with no expertise in handwriting determine that a signature on the ballot does not match that on the voter’s registration packet or because the signature was in pencil), and (iii) equal protection under the 14th Amendment by failing to treat similarly situated persons alike (e.g., due to the lack of statewide standards and inconsistent practices in terms of counties having guidance or training on signature matching or providing the opportunity to cure some defects, and no country providing the opportunity to cure signature mismatching for absentee ballots, although in-person voters are given the opportunity to cure signature mismatches). According to the complaint, New York has the highest rate of rejection of absentee ballots in the country despite only 6% of New Yorkers voting absentee. Also according to the complaint, 14% of absentee ballots were rejected in the 2018 general election, with a high percentage of rejections due to signatures on ballets allegedly not matching the voter’s signature on file.