New Yorkers would get 12 extra days to vote under a proposal Gov. Andrew Cuomo stuck in his State of the State address and it is already dividing local state legislators. As part of Cuomo’s State of the State address last Wednesday, he said he wants to allow New Yorkers to vote early at 139 locations throughout the state. The legislation would require every county to offer residents access to at least one early voting polling place and allow residents to vote 12 days before Election Day. The measure would allow voters to cast ballots for at least eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends. Counties would be required to have one early voting polling site for every 50,000 residents and each county’s boards of elections would determine where to site the polling places.
New York has 19.8 million residents, 11.7 million of whom are registered to vote. In the last non-presidential election year, only 29 percent of registered voters participated – less than one in three. In the last presidential election, only 53.6 percent of registered voters participated, Cuomo said. “Early voting will increase participation and make our elections more inclusive and democratic,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s office did not return calls for more details but Susan Lerner, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause New York, said they plan to work with his office to help design the best system if the measure passes.
“Early voting is a proven strategy to improve election administration by making it easy and convenient to cast a vote,” Lerner said.