February 8, 2019
On January 14, 2019, both the New York State Senate and Assembly passed seven historic voting reform laws. Five of the bills have been signed into law.
Voting Reform Bills Signed into Law
Bill 1 Establishes a system of early voting in every county in the state. It will be implemented in the upcoming November 2019 election. Early voting must begin two full weekends prior to the election and will conclude the second day before the election. Polls would be open for 8 hours between 7 A.M. to 8 P.M during the week and for 5 hours between 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. on weekends and holidays.
Bill 2 Allows 16 and 17 year-olds to preregister to vote. Once an individual turns 18, they will automatically become officially registered to vote. This bill takes effect on January 1, 2020.
Bill 3 Allows a voter who moves anywhere in the state to vote in their new election district. The Boards of election will automatically transfer the registration once they have notice from the National Change of Address system. Previously, a voter would have to update their voter registration information with their new address by the application deadline.
Bill 4 Aligns federal and state primary elections so they will occur on the same day. The bill also makes the state compliant with the Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. This bill will be implemented immediately. To see a list of new voting dates, please click here.
Bill 5 Limits the political donations of Limited Liability Corporations, closing what was known as the LLC loophole. LLCS are now subject to the same $5,000 aggregate contribution cap that applies to corporations for political donations. It also assigns a penalty for any LLC or other corporate entity that violates these provisions. This bill goes into effect seven days after it becomes law.
Voting Reform Bills Still Awaiting the Governor’s Signature
Bill 6 would implement same-day voter registration. As the law currently stands, voter registration must be completed at least 10 days before each election. This bill would amend the constitution to remove the 10 day requirement allowing for same-day voter registration. This bill has been passed by both the Senate and Assembly but has not yet been signed into law.
Bill 7 proposes amending the constitution to remove the excuse requirements for the voters requesting to vote-by-mail or absentee voting. Currently, a voter who wants to vote-by-mail must provide a reason of either illness, physical disability, or absence from county of residence. This bill has passed both the Senate and Assembly but has not yet been signed into law.