New York Legislature approves early voting
New York state may soon join most other states in allowing its citizens to cast a ballot before Election Day in a bid to improve its low voter turnout rates.
The state Senate and Assembly both approved legislation Monday that would require counties to allow in-person voting up to 10 days before an election. The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who supports the idea.
Supporters say giving citizens more time to vote will increase turnout and reduce lines on Election Day. New York was among the worst 10 states for turnout in both the 2016 and 2018 elections, continuing a long trend of lower-than-average voter participation.
Monday's legislative action came on the first full day of the 2019 session — quick action that supporters say shows the vital need to make it easier to cast a ballot.
"Today we begin the journey of bringing New York state from worst to first," said Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn and the sponsor of the bill in the Senate. "We are one of only 12 states that do not have early voting... Early voting will open up our democracy and it's time that we get it done."
The bills passed both chambers easily and with bipartisan support. Opponents — mostly Republicans — questioned the added cost of manning polling places for 10 days and said early voting could create opportunities for double voting or other fraud.