New York takes up vot­ing is­sues

Leg­is­la­tors con­sid­er­ing early vot­ing and eas­ier reg­is­tra­tion.

The Morning Call - - STATE/REGION - By David Klep­per

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.”

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