State Lawmakers Look to Ease Voting in NY

Early voting, no questions asked absentee ballot on the agenda

Tom Puckett
January 14, 2019 - 4:00 am

Albany, NY (WBEN) As the state legislative session begins, Democrats, who now have control of both the Senate and Assembly, will present proposals to expand voting access. That will include early voting, voting by mail, and no questions asked absentee balloting.

Senator Tim Kennedy is co-sponsor of the bill. He says lawmakers were inspired after a survey conducted among non-voters following the 2016 election. "A whopping 79 percent of those surveyed said they'd be more likely to vote if early voting was enacted," says Kennedy. "As it pertains to this state, we are in the dark ages when it comes to voter access.

Kennedy says among the items will be pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds and voting by mail. "By opening up our election laws, and making it easier to cast one's voice, we're making sure democracy works at its fullest level," notes Kennedy.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan says he likes two particular parts of the bill. "A no excuse absentee voting system to allow you to vote by mail, and early voting, so booths will be open days before the election," says Ryan. 

Ryan believes Senate Republicans have had an unwritten agreement. "Senate Republicans didn't want any more people to vote, so they made access to the polls super restrictive, so we're going to open it to make it more modern like other states in the union," says Ryan.

Republican Senator Patrick Gallivan is all for opening up voting access, but he has some concerns about the new bill. "All of us are concerned about access to voting, and while we do that we have to ensure the integrity of the entire voting process so it continues to be fair and free of unseemly things that could invite fraud," says Gallivan.

Gallivan says same day registration opens up a question. "Currently, people don't have to produce their ID when they vote. When we have same day registration what's the process? Will they need to present ID when others don't?" asks Gallivan.

Gallivan says any change in voting brings up a concern, citing the change from traditional booths to electronic scanning, noting worries about the integiry of the process.

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