Early Voting Option for New York State?

12:42 AM, Dec 29, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Back in 2010 voters saw a major change as voting machines went from the lever over to the scanner. And now in Albany as we approach a new year, State Assembly Democrats including Speaker Sheldon Silver are talking about voting for another change in the way we run our elections. "Early voting" would start two weeks before the designated Election Day. That is similar to what Ohio, Florida, and other states now allow. 

New York state has to this point only allowed absentee ballots with specific reasons such as those for health conditions or military service or for someone who is out of the area or the country on Election Day. But the downstate disruptions to the election process caused by Hurricane Sandy may have prompted another look. Erie County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr: "They put together a plan between the Governor's office and the state board which really wasn't workable. We had a number of ballots that came in weeks after we certified the election."

the proposal calls for five designated polling places in New York City or each county to be open 14 days before a general election or  seven days before a primary election. That would include Saturdays and Sundays. All votes would be tabulated as usual when polls close on the actual Election Day. 

Experts point out New York State's absentee ballot provision is itself a form of early voting but again it's legally limited. So a state constitutional amendment may be required for early voting and that could legally bind the legislature. But as Erie County Democratic Elections Commission Dennis Ward puts it  "They keep us guessing in Albany but I would think that there's certainly enough interest in it."


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