NY Assembly Passes Early Voting Legislation

ALBANY -
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (L), and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (R) walk to a news conference on early voting at the Capitol Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (L), and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (R) walk to a news conference on early voting at the Capitol Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

A bill that sailed through the state assembly Tuesday would bring early voting to New York state, allowing voters to cast their ballots up to two weeks before Election Day.

Under the bill’s provisions, a 15-day early voting period for general elections and an eight-day early voting period for primary and special elections would be established.

“Early voting will reduce barriers to participation that particularly impact working people, and ensure that all New Yorkers have an opportunity to participate in our democratic process,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Currently, 32 states, along with the District of Columbia, have some form of early voting, Nationally, about 30 percent of the voters made use of it in presidential elections. Voter participation in New York for November 2012 was approximately 59.5 percent, among the lowest in the nation and lower than the 64.2 percent turnout rate for the 2008 general election.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of those registered to vote who do not do so reported as reasons that they were too busy or they had conflicting work or school schedules.

Under the bill, each local Board of Elections would designate at least four polling places for voters to cast an early ballot in addition to a site at the local BOE. The sites would be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each weekday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday during the early voting period. Ballots cast during the early voting period would be counted at the close of the polls on Election Day and included in the election night tally.

The bill now goes to the Senate for passage.