NYS Legalizes Early Voting, Pre-Registration For Teens, Among Other Voting Laws

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ALBANY – New York State will now allow early voting eight days before an election after New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a number of new voting bills into law on Thursday.

Cuomo said, in addition to early voting, the laws call for synchronized federal and state primary elections, allow voter preregistration for teenagers, provide voter registration portability within the state, and close the LLC loophole.

Chautauqua County Board of Elections Comissioner Brian Abrams (R) said that preregistration for teenagers is a great step to enhance voter particpation in the state by engaging younger voters.

“The early registration and the extra convincing to allowing people to become registered is obviously a good step to enhance the opportunity,” said
Abrams. “That’s what we are looking for when myself and Commissioner Green go to schools. We are preaching the fact that you have to do the bare minimum and get registered.”

Abrams said the moving of the state and federal primaries to the same day is also another great change to the system that would hopefully increase voter participation as well.

“Having state and the federal (primaries) separated was a bad idea from the beginning and to force New York State residents to vote two different times,” said Abrams. “Every other state has one primary day except New York State and now we have it down to one, that is a very logical and efficient approach to voting in New York State.”

In total, Governor Cuomo signed the following voting reforms into law:

Closing the LLC Loophole: This bill will close the LLC loophole by limiting political spending by an LLC to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The bill will also require the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

Early voting: Enacting early voting will make voting more convenient for voters whose professional or family obligations make it difficult to physically get to the polls, as well as reduce waiting times and ease logistical burdens for poll workers.

Synchronizing federal and state elections: New York State currently holds separate primary elections for state and federal elections. With the addition of a presidential primary every four years and a general election, this means that in some cases New York is holding four different elections in a year. This can be confusing to voters and wastes administrative resources. This bill will unify the federal and state primaries once and for all and ensure that voters only go to the polls once to choose their nominees.

Pre-registration for minors: New Yorkers are not permitted to register to vote unless they will be 18 years of age by the end of the year, and by the date of the election in which they intend to vote. This bill will allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, meaning that a voter will automatically be registered on his or her 18th birthday.

Universal transfer of registration: When New Yorkers move to a different county, their voter registration does not move with them. This requires the voter to re-register with his or her new local board of elections as if he or she were registering for this first time. This bill will ensure that when a voter moves elsewhere in the state, his or her voter registration will seamlessly go with them.

Cuomo also signed two amendments to the state’s constitution allowing no-excuse absentee voting by mail and same-day voter registration.

The Governor still hopes to include more protections for voters in his 2020 budget including opening polling places before noon in primary elections, making election day a holiday statewide, automatic voter registration, online registration, and he hopes to ban corporate contributions to elections.

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