ALBANY, NY – This week, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and the Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation 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. These actions continue the Senate Democratic Majority’s tradition of kicking off Legislative Session by passing major pro-voter, and pro-democracy legislation.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester) issued the following statement:
“COVID-19 continues to impact every aspect of our lives, especially as positivity rates and hospitalizations surge across our state –– but we cannot allow it to undermine our democracy and New Yorkers’ sacred right to vote. The failure of the voting rights ballot proposals in New York and the threat to voting rights across our nation place an even greater responsibility on the Legislature to do the right thing and prioritize voting reforms. My bill, S7565B, will ensure New Yorkers concerned with in-person voting due to the pandemic have the ability to request a ballot through 2022. As the end of the pandemic continues to remain uncertain, we must prioritize public health and ensure that New Yorkers do not have to choose between safeguarding their own health and fulfilling their civic duty. I want to thank Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for prioritizing this issue at the very start of this legislative session."
The voting reforms passed by Senator Biaggi and the Senate Democratic Majority include:
- COVID Absentee Voting For School District Elections: This bill, S.7619, sponsored by Senator Shelley Mayer and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, 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, sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi, extends legislation allowing COVID as an excuse for absentee voting for elections.
- Voter Registration at Second residence: This bill, S.6214, sponsored by Senator Zellnor Myrie and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, codifies the right of voters to register at a second residence.
- Democracy Preservation Act: This bill, S.1126A, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, prohibits corporate contributions from companies owned by foreign entities or owners.
- Polling Place On College Campuses: This bill, S.4658, sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, designates polling places for voting on college campuses under certain circumstances.
- Candidate Order on Ballots: This bill, S.1283, sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, adjusts the candidate order on ballots to prevent voter dropoff.
- Portable Polling Locations for Early Voting: This bill, S.557, sponsored by Senator Rachel May and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, 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, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, allows local Board of Elections to establish absentee ballot drop-off locations to provide voters with a convenient alternative option to submit their absentee ballots.
- Validation of Ballots: This bill, S.253, sponsored by Senator Zellnor Myrie and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, requires the canvassing of paper ballots when the express intentions of the voter are unambiguous.
- Counting of Affidavit Ballots: This bill, S.284A, sponsored by Senator Zellnor Myrie and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, 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, sponsored by Senator Brian Kavanagh and co-sponsored by Senator Biaggi, reduces the time to register to vote to the Constitutional minimum, ten days before an election for primary and general elections.