Despite all the passion and hype that often accompany local and state elections, many New Yorkers choose not to vote. In fact, New York is near the bottom when it comes to voter participation, placing 41st among the 50 states in the percentage of its citizens who cast ballots in the 2016 general election. And that was a move up from its 44th-place finish from the 2012 election. Now, with the 2018 legislative session set to open Wednesday, a coalition of good-government groups and labor unions is pushing to make New York the 38th state to allow early voting. They contend that expanded opportunities for voters to make their choices will pump up participation.
“Our focus is going to be to get some of these reforms into the budget,” said Jennifer Wilson, policy director for the New York state chapter of the League of Women Voters. “We’ve seen in the past that once the budget is completed, it becomes too easy for lawmakers to kick the can down the road.”
Without state financial support to assist counties in opening polls in advance of election days, Wilson said, it would become more challenging to overcome the argument that early voting leaves the local governments with an unfunded mandate from Albany.