Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Election Law Committee Chair Charles Lavine today announced the Assembly has passed a package of legislation designed to increase voting opportunities, modernize the voter registration process and create greater transparency and accountability in elections by closing the Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) loophole.
"For years, the Assembly Majority has fought to protect New York's electoral process by proposing legislation to ensure eligible voters are given ample opportunities to vote and have access to a simple, modern registration process," said Speaker Heastie. "Year after year, we have also passed legislation to close the LLC Loophole and ensure fairness in state elections. We urge our colleagues in the Senate to join us in protecting the integrity of state political campaigns."
"The measures approved today by the Assembly would strengthen our electoral process by ensuring voter accessibility, facilitating participation and improving transparency in campaign financing," said Assemblymember Charles Lavine. "Our democratic process is dependent on our ability to ensure that New Yorkers are able to exercise their fundamental right to vote with ease."
To ensure accessibility, equity and efficiency in the state's electoral process, the package includes legislation that would establish a seven-day early voting period for registered New York voters to vote in person prior to any primary, special or general election day (A.9608-B, Lavine). Each county would be required to provide a set amount of early voting hours, but would have the flexibility to offer hours that best meet the needs of its residents.
Another bill would amend the New York State Constitution to allow no excuse absentee voting (A.7623, Vanel). Under current law, absentee voting is only allowed if an individual expects to be absent on Election Day, or is unable to get to the polls because of physical illness or disability. This measure offers a more equitable voting experience by allowing busy New Yorkers more options for casting their ballots.
"There is no reason to restrict absentee voting eligibility requirements for New Yorkers to such narrow criteria," said Assemblymember Clyde Vanel. "By providing voters with more options for exercising their right to vote, we can ensure that no one misses this important part of our democratic process for lack of convenience."
The legislative package also includes the Voter Enfranchisement Modernization Act of 2018 that would modernize and streamline voter registration by establishing an online voter registration process (A.5382-A, Cusick).
"In 2018, modern technology allows us to conduct countless transactions online, including many state and federal applications," said Assemblymember Michael Cusick. "It is past time that we modernize New York's antiquated system by creating a streamlined online registration process to ensure greater accessibility."
The Assembly has also passed legislation that would restrict LLC campaign contributions to the same $5,000 aggregate contribution limit that exists for corporations (A.9758, Simon). The bill would also require the disclosure of all direct and indirect owners of the LLC and that all contributions by an LLC be attributed to each member in proportion to each member's ownership interests. Under current law, as interpreted by the State Board of Elections, a single individual is allowed to make multiple large contributions to the same candidate or committee through separate LLCs making it difficult to determine who made the contributions and evaded individual contribution limits.
"The LLC loophole allows the wealthy and special interests to anonymously pour unlimited money into campaigns in hopes of influencing candidates," said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. "The Assembly Majority has repeatedly passed this critical piece of campaign finance reform legislation. New Yorkers deserve greater transparency and fairness in the electoral process, and closing the notorious LLC loophole is an important step forward."
Earlier this year, the Assembly passed other legislation to increase accessibility for voters and modernize polling sites, including a measure that changed the fall 2018 primary date from Tuesday, September 11th to Thursday, September 13th to ensure that all New Yorkers are able to participate in the election. The Assembly also passed legislation that would modernize polling sites and facilitate early voting by allowing electronic poll books containing voter registration lists to be used at poll sites.