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Bill seeks to elevate impersonating an election official to felony status in NY

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  • Staff Report 

The New York State Board of Elections reports instances in 13 counties where individuals, allegedly posing as elections officials, have approached voters regarding their registration. According to state Sen. Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, there have been reports of individuals going door-to-door impersonating officials, possibly with the intention of fraudulently obtaining detailed personal information. In response to this emerging trend, Walczyk has proposed legislation aimed at escalating the legal repercussions of such actions, stating the defense of New York’s democratic processes is pivotal.

Currently, impersonating any official is classified as a misdemeanor in New York. However, Walczyk’s bill intends to reclassify the impersonation of election officials as a felony, emphasizing the importance of taking such crimes seriously to preserve the integrity of the state’s democracy. Walczyk is optimistic about the passage of this bill, noting that he has secured co-sponsors and believes it transcends partisan lines. Support has been voiced by the League of Women Voters and the state Elections Commissioners Association’s Democratic caucus chair, both emphasizing the importance of such a measure in protecting voters and maintaining confidence in the electoral process.

Despite the relative scarcity of reported instances, there’s recognition of the need for preemptive action, especially as the state approaches a presidential campaign year where door-to-door campaigning is common. Election commissioners maintain that their staff will never approach individuals door-to-door and advise the public to request identification from anyone claiming to represent a campaign, and never to disclose personal information. The proposed legislation, if passed, would serve as a significant step in preventing voter suppression and safeguarding the democratic process in New York.