The New York State Senate opened the 2023-24 Legislative Session by passing measures to improve elections in New York State. It marks the fifth consecutive year the Senate Majority has opened Session by “passing major pro-voter, anti-disenfranchisement, pro-democracy legislation.” The 2023 legislation allows for portable polling locations, expands ballot drop-off locations, establishes the New York Voting and Elections Database, allows food and non-alcoholic drinks to voters waiting in line at the polls, and establishes voter suppression as a criminal offense. Past election reforms have opened the 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 New York State Legislative Sessions.
“I’m proud of the tradition we’ve started as a Senate Majority to have our first day of session improve our democratic process and pay homage to the voters of this state who have elected us to these positions,” Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “I’m proud to be the sponsor of legislation today that will make voter suppression a criminal offense. While sometimes voter suppression occurs subtly, oftentimes the effort is much more pronounced and widespread. Disenfranchisement can not exist in New York, and my bill, along with the other important pieces of legislation being passed today will continue to modernize our electoral system and create a fairer and more transparent system.”
Bill sponsor and Chair of the Elections Committee, Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “Once again, the Senate Majority's first order of business for the year is passing bills to make voting easier and protect our rights. This has become an annual tradition for us: not because it benefits one party or the other, but because it is the right thing to do for our democracy. As Elections Committee Chair, I am proud to help lead New York's journey from #WorstToFirst and I look forward to these bills passing both houses and becoming law.”