New York takes up voting issues
Legislators considering early voting and easier registration.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Lawmakers in New York are poised to approve early voting and easier registration as part of a major overhaul of the state's antiquated voting laws, which have been blamed for decades of low turnout at the polls.
The Senate and Assembly both plan to take up a package of election and voting reform bills on Monday, the first full day of the 2019 legislative session. The quick timing reflects the importance of the changes, as well as the deep frustration that New York has lagged other states in modernizing their election laws.
“We are going to make our democracy work,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
The highest profile of the bills would allow voters to cast a ballot at their polling place up to 10 days before an election. More than 30 states already have some form of advance voting, and the option has become increasingly popular in many states. Long lines seen at many polling places in New York last November show the need for the option, supporters say.
Early voting and other changes up for debate have long been blocked by Republicans in the state Senate. Democrats wrested control of the chamber from the GOP in last November's elections, and are promising quick action on reforms.
Good-government groups that have advocated for the changes for years will be watching to see if they follow through on the promise.
“There's no reason we should be trying to cram millions of voters into a 15-hour window on a single day, while 37 other states enjoy days or weeks to vote,” said Susan Lerner, director of Common Cause-New York. “It's time to see if a unified Democratic government can truly deliver on progressive voting reforms.”