NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a package of voting reforms into law Thursday, including early voting.
The state Senate and Assembly both approved legislation requiring counties to allow in-person voting up to 10 days before an election.
Supporters say giving citizens more time to vote will increase turnout and reduce lines on Election Day. New York was among the worst 10 states for turnout in both the 2016 and 2018 elections, continuing a long trend of lower-than-average voter participation.
There’s also hope the measure will alleviate some of the long lines and overall debacle of the midterm elections.
“Early voting is going to be transformative to the system. One of the things this legislation does is bring early voting to New York, and I say amen to that,” Cuomo said.
WEB EXTRA: READ THE VOTING REFORMS (.pdf)
Susan Lerner of Common Cause/NY and the Let NY Vote Coalition said the measures were good, but didn’t go far enough.
“While the Let NY Vote Coalition is thrilled that Governor Cuomo is signing early voting into law today, it is only the first step. The Governor must allocate funding in his budget in order for early voting to be successful in November. New Yorkers are counting on him to get it right,” she said.
Cuomo was joined at the signing by actor and director Ben Stiller.
“This issue of voting rights is very important to all New Yorkers,” Stiller said. “It’s fundamental to our democracy.”
The bills passed both chambers easily and with bipartisan support. Opponents — mostly Republicans — questioned the added cost of manning polling places for 10 days and said early voting could create opportunities for double voting or other fraud.
Local governments don’t have the money to pay for the costs associated with in-person early voting and are asking Cuomo and lawmakers to add funding in the next state budget, according to a statement from the state association of counties.
Other bills are intended to modernize the state’s antiquated voting rules. One consolidates state and federal primaries into a single election in June, replacing the current, often confusing calendar of multiple primaries. Another preregisters 16 and 17-year-olds when they sign up for a driving permit so they are automatically be registered when they turn 18.
Early voting is expected to go into effect in November, when the public advocate race is on the ballot.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)