SFY 2019-20 Budget Includes Funding To Implement Election Reforms

Speaker Carl Heastie and Election Law Chair Charles Lavine today announced that $24.7 million in funding for updates to the local and state boards of elections is included in the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2019-20 Budget. This funding will help implement the election reform package passed by the legislature earlier this session, which included early voting, use of electronic poll books, consolidating federal and state primary days to a single day and establishing an online voter registration system.

“These investments to update our election systems will expand voters’ access to the polls,” said Speaker Heastie. “This funding will allow local and state boards of elections to implement the comprehensive package of reforms the legislature passed earlier this session, including early voting, to ensure all New Yorkers have a voice in our government.”

“Maintaining the local and state boards of elections is vital to our democratic process,” said Assemblymember Lavine. “The reforms funded in this budget will make voting more convenient and accessible to further encourage New Yorkers to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

The enacted budget includes $14.7 million in capital funds and $10 million to implement early voting in New York. These funds will enable local and state boards of elections to carry out several reforms including:

  • Authorizing counties to use computer generated voter registration lists, also refered to as electronic poll books;
  • Providing uniform polling hours for primary elections across all counties; and
  • Enacting the Voter Enfranchisement Modernization Act, allowing the State Board of Elections to establish an online voter registration system.

The budget also includes an increase in time allotted, without loss of pay, for an employee to vote in any election. Additionally, the plan prohibits lobbyists, political action committees, labor unions and independent expenditure committees from making loans to candidates for political office.

The seven bill election reform package passed by the legislature earlier this session aimed to update New York’s antiquated electoral process, expanding access to the polls and bringing more transparency to campaign finance. The package included legislation to:

  • Establish a nine day early voting period;
  • Allow no excuse absentee voting;
  • Combine the federal non-presidential primary and state primary;
  • Allow for Election Day registration;
  • 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; and
  • Reform the Limited Liability Company campaign contributions policy.