Bill allowing for remote caucuses passes state Senate, awaits Assembly vote

— Photo from the Office of State Senator Michelle Hinchey
The caucus bill is the first to be sponsored by Michelle Hinchey, of the 46th District, who was elected last November and replaced Republican George Amedore, who didn't seek re-election.

A law that would allow remote caucusing for village and town elections this year has passed the state Senate unanimously and now awaits a vote by the Assembly. 

The law is sponsored by Democrat Michelle Hinchey, of the 46th District, who was elected last November, replacing Republican George Amedore. 

Part of a three-law package focused on election processes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the caucus bill would allow local party leaders to meet remotely and sign nominating documents separately, thereby maintaining social distance. 

The law would expire on Dec. 31, 2021 (presuming that the pandemic is under control by then and social distancing is no longer needed), though a spokeswoman for Hinchey told The Enterprise that Hinchey “is happy to revisit the idea of extending her remote caucus bill if this is something that our towns and villages are interested in maintaining as an option.”

Hinchey’s 140-mile-long 46th District encompasses all of Greene and Montgomery counties, and parts of Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster counties. In Albany County, the district includes all or parts of Guilderland, New Scotland, Coeymans, and the Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo.

A second law from the same package also passed the state Senate, by a vote of 62-to-1, and would allow absentee ballots to be delivered to nursing home residents safely. It is sponsored by Democrat Jeremy Cooney, of the 56th District.

The third law, sponsored by Democrat Shelley Mayer, of the 37th District, would allow voters to request absentee ballots on the basis of concern about contracting an illness, which was allowed for the first time this year by an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo. That bill has not been voted on in either chamber.



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