Protecting New York’s Democracy: Legislature’s Democratic Majority secures passage of sweeping new election reforms

As its first order of business, the new, Democratic-controlled NYS Legislature passed and sent to the Governor a sweeping package of changes designed to make it easier for eligible voters to cast ballots. For years, the former GOP majority in the Senate blocked these bills. The changes include:

Early votingThis bill  will require counties to open a limited number of polling sites for early in-person voting. Saratoga County is expected to have three sites, open for hours as specified in the legislation. Early voting is expected to begin with the 2019 general election, with polls open from Sat., October 26 through Sun., November 3.

Consolidation of Federal and State Primary Elections. This bill  moves up the date of the NYS primary election, from September to June, so it coincides with the day of the federal primary. It will take effect this year and the consolidated primary date will be June 25, 2019.

Closing the “LLC Loophole.” This bill  changes the campaign contribution limits for limited liability companies (LLCs) so they have the same $5,000 limit that applies to corporations, plus new disclosure requirements. It takes effect seven days after the bill becomes law.

Same-day voter registration. This bill would remove the state’s 10-day advance registration rule. It requires a constitutional amendment. As such, it must pass a second time in the next (2021-2022) legislative session and win approval through a statewide voter referendum.

“No excuse” absentee voting. This bill allows any voter to request an absentee ballot without needing to provide a reason. It requires a constitutional amendment, so it must also pass during the 2021-2022 session and be approved in a statewide referendum.

Voter registration transfers. This bill  requires that, when a voter moves elsewhere within New York state, the Board of Elections must automatically transfer the voter’s enrollment and registration to their new election district. It takes effect 60 days after the bill becomes law.

Voter pre-registrationThis bill  enables 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register (so they will automatically become registered voters upon turning 18). It also requires promotion of student voter registration and pre-registration. It takes effect January 1, 2020.

This article originally appeared in In The Loop, our lively e-newsletter devoted to political and other happenings in our region. To subscribe, go here.

Photo credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia