Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre Passes Legislation to Make Voting More Accessible and Limit Influence of Special Interests

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Babylon) announced that she helped pass measures to modernize New York’s electoral process and close the limited liability corporation (LLC) loophole in the state’s campaign finance law.

“Government must be accountable to the people,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s why it’s so important that we ensure hardworking busy New Yorkers can exercise their right to vote, while pushing wealthy special interests to the sidelines.”

The Assembly legislation establishes early voting in New York State, which would take place during the seven-day period before any general, primary or special election (A.9608-B). Polling locations would be required to be open for eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends and holidays, and to offer evening hours on at least two days. County boards of elections have the option to provide additional voting hours and would be required to publicize the location, dates and hours of all early voting polling places within each county. The state has committed $7 million to help counties cover the costs of implementing it.

In addition, the legislative package includes the Voter Enfranchisement Modernization Act of 2018, which establishes online voter registration in New York State (A.5382-A). This will simplify the registration process and finally update the state’s outdated paper-based application process, noted Jean-Pierre.

To increase access to mail-in ballots at home, Jean-Pierre also helped pass a bill that would amend the New York State Constitution to allow any citizen to receive an absentee ballot upon request (A.7623). Under current law, residents can only receive absentee ballots if they expect to be absent from the county on the day of the election, or if they have an illness or physical disability. The amendment must be passed by both the Assembly and Senate in consecutive terms before it goes before voters as a ballot referendum.

Another measure closes the LLC loophole (A.9758-A). Current law allows individuals and corporations to make unlimited contributions to the same candidate, political party or campaign committee by creating new LLCs for each contribution. Each LLC is treated as an individual donor, even if multiple LLCs are owned by the same person or entity, which makes it harder to determine the real contributor. The Assembly measure would extend the $5,000 aggregate contribution limit, already applicable to corporations, to include LLCs, and require LLCs to disclose the names of individuals with membership interests, attributing LLC contributions to them.

“By skirting limits, wealthy special interests have influenced our elections for far too long,” Jean-Pierre said. “This legislation puts the power back into the hands of the people so they can elect officials who address their needs and move New York forward.”