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Photo courtesy of NYC Votes
Photo courtesy of NYC Votes

Early voting could be coming to New York State.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on February 12 that he is advancing legislation to allow for early voting in New York. In addition, the governor announced a 30-day budget amendment to the Fiscal Year 2019 budget that would provide approximately $7 million for counties in the state to offer early voting in the 12 days leading up to Election Day.

Currently, New York is one of 13 states that does not have early voting and requires voters to provide an excuse, such as being unable to get to the polls due to a disability, to be able to request an absentee ballot.

“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and no one should have to choose between exercising their sacred right to vote and going to work, school or personal commitments,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By offering early voting across the state, we are further breaking down barriers to democracy and helping to ensure that all New Yorkers’ voices are heard.”

Under Cuomo’s new legislation, each county would have to have at least one polling site open during the 12 days leading up to election day, and one site open for every 50,000 residents of the county. The polling site must be open eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends for residents to cast early ballots, and the bipartisan County Boards of Elections would determine the specific location of the polling site based on accessibility and convenience.

Assemblymember Robert Carroll applauded the move. “This piece of funding is needed to make early voting a reality in our state.  New York is one of only 13 states that does not offer early voting and because of that and other antiquated laws we have some of the worst voter participation in the nation,” he said.

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