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.
The proposal requires every county to offer residents access to at least one early voting poll site. 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.
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.
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.
Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia already allow voters to cast ballots in person before Election Day. In 2016, the number of these voters who had cast their early ballots by the week before Election Day nearly doubled compared to the 2012 elections.
To modernize the voter registration process, the Governor will propose adopting a system that implements automatic voter registration.
The new system will streamline state services by automatically sending voters' information from relevant agencies application directly to the County Board of Elections. New Yorkers who do not wish to register to vote can simply check an "opt out" box.
Citizens can already register to vote at the DMV, but often face unnecessary, onerous regulations requiring a potential voter to include additional voting information in their application for a DMV service. Paper applications can introduce errors to voter rolls, and inaccurate registrations can lead to voters encountering difficulties at the polls. Automatic voter registration can lead to improved accuracy of voter registration lists, reduced costs, and a more convenient and efficient process for voters and election officials.
New York does not currently allow voters to register on Election Day. This proposal would allow New Yorkers to register and vote on the same day so that onerous and counter-intuitive registration deadlines do not prevent New Yorkers from having the opportunity to participate in the electoral process. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia allow same-day registration, which has greatly increased the accessibility of the democratic process to everyday citizens.