Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced a 30-day budget amendment will be advanced to fund voting reforms, including early voting across the state. This action will provide approximately $7 million in the FY 2019 Executive Budget for New York counties to offer early voting in the 12 days leading up to Election Day.
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and no one should have to choose between exercising their sacred right to vote and going to work, school or personal commitments,” Governor Cuomo said. “By offering early voting across the state, we are further breaking down barriers to democracy and helping to ensure that all New Yorkers’ voices are heard.”
To make it easier for New Yorkers to vote, Governor Cuomo is advancing legislation to institute early voting in the State. The legislation will require every county to offer residents access to at least one early voting poll site during the 12 days leading up to Election Day. Voters will have at least eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends to cast early ballots. Counties must have one early voting poll site for every 50,000 residents and the bipartisan County Boards of Elections will determine the specific location of early voting polling places, subject to standards of accessibility and convenience.
This action is part of Governor Cuomo’s Democracy Agenda—a bold set of reforms to ensure elections remain free and transparent and to modernize New York’s antiquated voting system.
Under current law, New York is one of only 13 states where early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot. New Yorkers can vote via absentee ballot only if the voter meets certain qualifications such as being absent from his or her county on Election Day or being unable to get to the polls due to a disability.
Research shows that work, school, and personal commitments can prevent voters from participating in United States elections. Early voting would ameliorate these inhibitors and lead to shorter lines on Election Day, early detection and correction of registration errors and greater access to voting. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia already allow voters to cast ballots in person before Election Day.