Assembly Passes Legislation Co-Sponsored by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz to Bring Early Voting To New York

Bill is part of a sweeping package to reform NY’s antiquated electoral process
January 16, 2019

The Assembly passed a sweeping election reform package this week, including legislation co-sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) that would institute early voting in New York State. The bill would strengthen the state’s electoral process in the face of declining voter turnout, and also facilitate greater access to the polls.

“Active participation in the electoral process is the foundation of our democracy, but that participation has languished over time owing to logistical factors that we can work to overcome,” said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, who has consistently co-sponsored early voting legislation.

The bill would establish a nine-day early voting period running until the Sunday before Election Day. Each county would be required to provide a set amount of early voting hours over the course of the nine day period, but would have the flexibility to offer hours that best meet the needs of its residents. This measure would go into effect immediately, and be in place for the 2019 General Election.

"Those who are unable to vote on Election Day should not be excluded from participating in the democratic process merely because they are unavailable on a single day," the bill says. Assemblyman Cymbrowitz noted that, should the bill become law, New York would join 37 other states and the District of Columbia in providing an alternative to voting on Election Day.

The bill was part of a seven-bill package of legislation to reform New York State’s antiquated electoral process. The State Senate also approved the legislation.

An amendment to the New York State Constitution included in the package (A.778) would continue expanding accessibility to the polls to allow “no excuse” absentee voting. Under current law, absentee voting is allowed only if an individual expects to be absent on Election Day, or is unable to get to the polls because of physical illness or disability.

Also passed was legislation to combine the federal non-presidential primary and state primary, making voting easier for New Yorkers and saving millions of dollars statewide (A.779). The combined federal and state primary would be held in June.

The package also included a constitutional amendment that would allow for Election Day registration (A.777), a bill to automatically transfer a voter’s registration when they move within New York State (A.775), and a bill that would require voter registration forms to include a space for pre-registering applicants at least 16 years of age (A.774). For the fourth time since 2016, the Assembly also passed legislation to restrict LLC campaign contributions to the same $5,000 aggregate contribution limit that exists for corporations (A.776).

“Voting is not only the right of every American but also a hallmark of our values and our democracy. Yet, for far too many New Yorkers, voting is a difficult, exasperating experience,” said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz. “It’s time to reform some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country in an effort to ensure every voice is heard. With our new partners in the state Senate, we are poised to make good on our promise to New Yorkers and break down barriers to voting.”