Assembly Budget Includes Critical Funding to Implement Election Reforms

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Election Law Chair Charles Lavine today announced that the Assembly State Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget provides necessary funding for local and state boards of elections.

“The amounts provided in the Assembly budget proposal will ensure that voting is convenient and accessible for all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Heastie. “These funds will enable the local and state boards of elections to carry out the comprehensive package of reforms the legislature passed earlier this session.”

“Maintaining the local and state boards of elections is vital to our democratic process,” said Assemblymember Lavine. “The funds in the Assembly budget will ensure that our election law reforms are fully implemented so that all New Yorkers are able to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

The Assembly budget would provide capital funds of $27 million for local boards of elections to implement early voting by purchasing electronic poll books and on-demand ballot printers, improving ease of voting for all New Yorkers. The Assembly would provide an additional $7 million to offset other costs associated with early voting.

The Assembly budget also provides $3.1 million to maintain current operations at the State Board of Elections. In addition, the Assembly’s proposal would authorize counties to use electronic poll books that have been approved and certified by the State Board of Elections.

These funds will help carry out the seven bill election reform package passed by the legislature earlier this session. This sweeping legislation reformed New York State’s antiquated electoral process, expanding New Yorkers’ access to the polls and bringing more transparency to campaign finance. The package included legislation to:

  • Establish a nine day early voting period;
  • Combine the federal non-presidential primary and state primary;
  • Automatically transfer a voter’s registration when they move within New York State;
  • Require voter registration forms to include a space for pre-registering applicants at least 16 years of age;
  • Reform the LLC campaign contributions policy; and
  • Begin the process of changing the New York Constitution to allow no excuse absentee voting and Election Day registration.

The Assembly proposal does not include the executive proposal to use taxpayer funds for the public financing of political campaigns, but indicates support for a low donor matching program which would limit the influence of money and ensure democracy in our elections. These discussions will continue during the budget negotiations.