NEW YORK, NY — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, New York City elected officials, unions and grassroots organizations rallied at Foley Square to urge the New York State legislature to include early voting in the state budget due April 1.
Early voting would allow eligible voters to cast ballots in-person days, sometimes weeks, before an election. Currently, 37 states already have some form of early voting, leaving New York as one of only 13 states without any means to vote early except via absentee ballot.
In February, Governor Cuomo announced an historic 30-day amendment to his proposed budget that would provide approximately $7 million to New York counties to offer early voting up to 12 days in advance of Election Day.
However, the Assembly’s proposed one-house bill is only for 8 days, which is insufficient, while the Senate’s proposed budget excludes early voting all together.
The budget will be voted on at the end of this month.
“The right to vote is the right that protects all other rights,” said Schneiderman. “Yet New York’s current voting system is an affront to the values of democracy on which this state was built. Early voting would be a critical step forward in the fight for more accessible elections. My office won’t stop fighting to protect and expand voting rights for New Yorkers.”
Attorney General Schneiderman has been a leader in the fight to reform New York’s antiquated voting laws, detailing New York’s voter access issues in a 2016 report, and introducing legislation to protect and expand voting rights.
“As Dr. King said 53 years ago, ‘The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without the vote it was dignity without strength.’ As we commemorate the 50th year since his assassination, we cannot carry on his legacy until everyone in New York State has a fair opportunity to cast their ballot, not just within 15 hours,” said Minister Kirsten John Foy.
“Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy — and while we all know that voting is a fundamental right, our rhetoric is far ahead of our reality in New York. The simple fact is we’ve let New York’s election laws atrophy, and we now have one of the worst voter turnout rates in the country,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Ranking Member of the Senate Elections Committee and sponsor of early voting legislation.
“Elected officials work for the voters — and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure they can make their voices heard at the ballot box. New Yorkers should not be disenfranchised simply because they’re busy on any given Tuesday. Early voting would allow seniors, working parents, those with non-traditional schedules, and every busy New Yorker to vote when it’s convenient,” he added. “This year, we have a real chance of making New York the 38th state with early voting, and we’ll keep fighting to make sure this commonsense reform is included in the final budget.”
“It’s time for New York to do what 37 other states have already done and pass early voting. It’s a non-partisan no brainer that 67% of New Yorkers support. Common Cause/NY joins with more than 30 organizations from across the state in urging the legislature to follow the Governor’s lead and include funding for early voting in the final budget. It’s time to bring New York’s antiquated system of elections into the 21st century,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
“Women fought and died for the right to vote 100 years ago. But for many women – as well as people of color, immigrants, the working poor, other marginalized communities, and anyone with work & personal responsibilities – it’s still nearly impossible to get to the polls. The right to vote means nothing without the access to vote. 100 years is long enough, we need Early Voting this year to close the gap,” said advocate Shabd Simon-Alexander.
A Siena Poll released in February shows that 67% of New Yorkers, including 60% of Upstate New Yorkers, 48% of Republicans, and 65% of suburban New Yorkers, support early voting.
This percentage is up two points from January.
This year, Let NY Vote, formerly known as Easy Elections NY, formed as a statewide coalition of organizations & grassroots groups fighting to modernize New York’s elections.
The goal is to pass simple solutions in 2018 to improve our elections and remove barriers to registering and voting for all eligible New Yorkers.