The New York State Senate recently passed a series of election reforms to make voting easier, more efficient, and more accountable. The 2020 measures expand upon laws passed last year that took effect ahead of the November general election. These reforms scheduled state and federal primaries for the same day; made voter registrations automatically update when New Yorkers relocate in-state; and for 10 days prior to Election Day, gave New Yorkers the option to vote early.
State Board of Elections records show that these reforms produced results in the November 2019 General Election. They drove civic involvement, and fueled demands for more voter empowerment. Learn more about the 2020 reforms below.
New York Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2020 Read More
The New York Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2020 registers to vote every New Yorker upon interacting with a government agency.
By the time a New Yorker is old enough to vote, they’ve provided one or more state agencies with the necessary information confirming their eligibility. Registering isn't opting to vote, voting is. The outdated registration process is an obstacle to voting.
- A modern and automatic system will increase efficiency, save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, increase the completeness and accuracy of the statewide voter registration list, prevent erroneous disfranchisement of eligible citizens, promote greater participation of eligible voters in elections, and reduce the incidence of voter registration fraud and voting fraud.
On-Campus Poll Sites Read More
College and university campuses, as well as institutional properties with large concentrations of voters, will receive their own election districts and their own poll sites.
College students have unique voting barriers. Their first steps on the path to civic engagement is deciding where home is for the purposes of voting. If they remain home, they vote by absentee ballot. If they make their college community home, they vote alongside you at local polling sites. For many, it’s their first time voting.
- Students are among the fastest growing voting block in the nation. On-campus election districts and polling sites will meet their needs. They will also improve voter access for the surrounding college communities as early voting sites can’t take up public school space and resources.
Expanding Early Voting Sites, Improving Access Read More
Early voting encourages civic involvement by tailoring elections to the everyday lives of New Yorkers. Adequate and equitable access to early voting sites goes beyond the number of polling sites provided. Siting must take into consideration population density, travel time to the polling place, proximity to other early voting poll sites, public transportation routes, and commuter traffic patterns. These reforms do more to bring polling sites to voters, and ease restrictions on the establishments that can host them. The 2020 reforms simplify the standards that determine the location and number of polling sites. The population determines the number and location of sites. Located in the largest population center of every county, will be at least one early polling site.
- Each county will designate an early voting poll site in its largest municipality by population. Every town and city on Long Island will host a site. As will the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Syracuse. The minimum number of poll sites in New York’s largest cities and towns increases from 7 to 10. There must be one site provided for every 50,000 voters.
- Counties will have the option to employ two or more portable early polling locations for no fewer than three consecutive days. They would not replace or decrease the mandated number of regular early voting polling places.
Informing Voters of Key Dates Read More
New York's voter participation rates continue to lag behind other states. Making use of existing informational infrastructure, state and local municipalities can use digital displays to notify voters of key dates in an election cycle.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) and local municipalities are authorized to place variable message signs along highways that display election and voting-related messages. Messages would include notice of registration deadline (5 days out), and/or notice of upcoming elections (3 days out).