Albany, NY – New York State Senator Pete Harckham and his colleagues in the State Senate advanced legislation this week to improve New York State’s electoral system, expand voting on college campuses, empower New York voters to participate in democracy and continue protecting voters at the polls amidst the ongoing pandemic.
The approved legislation continues the Senate Democratic Majority’s tradition of kicking off the new session by passing major pro-voter, anti-disenfranchisement, pro-democracy bills, all of which build on the historic reforms passed in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
“Voter participation is the keystone to maintaining a strong, vital democracy, so it is essential that we continue to eliminate the unnecessary barriers that have kept too many people from casting their ballots in school, municipal and state elections,” said Harckham. “This common-sense package of bills offers practical improvements for voter registration and balloting, some of which are in response to the Covid pandemic.”
The voting reforms passed by Harckham and the State Senate include:
- COVID Absentee Voting for School District Elections: This bill, S.7619, allows voters who are concerned about voting in-person due to an epidemic or disease outbreak to request an absentee ballot for school district elections in 2022.
- COVID Absentee Voting for General Elections: This bill, S.7565B, extends legislation allowing COVID as an excuse for absentee voting for elections.
- Voter Registration at Second residence: This bill, S.6214, codifies the right of voters to register at a second residence.
- Democracy Preservation Act: This bill, S.1126A, prohibits corporate contributions from companies owned by foreign entities or owners.
- Polling Place on College Campuses: This bill, S.4658, designates polling places for voting on college campuses under certain circumstances.
- Candidate Order on Ballots: This bill, S.1283, adjusts the candidate order on ballots to prevent voter drop off.
- Portable Polling Locations for Early Voting: This bill, S.557, amends the election law to allow counties the option to establish two or more locations for portable polling places for early voting.
- Absentee Ballot Drop-off Box Locations: This bill, S.492, allows local Boards of Elections to establish absentee ballot drop-off locations to provide voters with a convenient alternative option for submitting their absentee ballots.
- Validation of Ballots: This bill, S.253, requires the canvassing of paper ballots when the express intentions of the voter are unambiguous.
- Counting of Affidavit Ballots: This bill, S.284A, requires counting affidavit ballots of eligible voters if a voter appears at a polling place in the correct county but in the incorrect election district.
- Reduction of Time for Mailing and Receipt of Registration to Constitutional Minimum: This bill, S.2951, reduces the time to register to vote to the Constitutional minimum—10 days before an election for primary and general elections.