Assemblymember Steck Helps Pass Election Reform Legislation to Strengthen Democratic Process in New York State

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that he helped pass legislation placing limits on campaign contributions made by wealthy special interests and making registering and voting more accessible.

The first piece of legislation closes the limited liability corporation (LLC) loophole in the state’s campaign finance law. Under current law, individuals and corporations can donate unlimited amounts to campaigns by creating a new LLC for each contribution. The bill extends the $5,000 aggregate contribution limit to LLCs that applies to other corporations. The bill also requires LLCs to disclose the names of individuals with membership interests and attribute LLC contributions to them (A.9758-A).

“Our job as elected officials is to represent the interests of the people who have entrusted us with their votes,” Steck said. “We’re not here to be the puppets for wealthy donors, and this bill makes sure that the power is truly in the hands of the people.”

Another bill Steck helped pass expands voting access by establishing an early voting period for seven days prior to any general, primary or special election (A.9608-B). Designated polling locations would be required to be open for eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends and holidays, and offer evening hours on at least two days during the early voting period. County boards of elections would have the option of providing additional voting hours and would be required to publicize to voters the location, dates and hours of all early voting polling places within each county. The state has committed funding for counties to implement it so they’re not saddled with an unfunded mandate, Steck noted.

In a continued effort to increase voter turnout, the legislative package also includes a measure that would amend the New York State Constitution to allow any citizen to receive an absentee ballot upon request (A.7623). Currently, only residents who plan to be out of the county on the day of the election or have an illness or physical disability are eligible for absentee ballots.

“While expanding access to the ballot promotes a healthy and responsive democracy, we must ensure that these efforts don’t lead to electoral malfeasance. I’ll keep working to institute safeguards so that political operatives can’t use unscrupulous or downright intimidating tactics to meddle in the democratic process and sway elections,” Steck said.

The package also includes the Voter Enfranchisement Modernization Act of 2018, which establishes online voter registration in New York State (A.5382-A). Online registration streamlines the process, reduces waste and cuts down on unnecessary paperwork, Steck noted.

“This legislation ensures that New Yorkers with hectic schedules and busy families can register and vote without hurdles to jump through,” Steck said. “We need to be doing everything we can to make voting easier while combating disenfranchisement. The strength of our democracy depends on it.”