Senator Myrie and Senate Majority Strengthen And Expand New Yorkers’ Voting Rights

Zellnor Myrie

January 09, 2020

Reforms Include Automatic Voter Registration, Improvements to Early Voting, and more

(Albany, NY) Senator Myrie and the Senate Democratic Majority today advanced legislation empowering more New Yorkers to take advantage of early voting opportunities and exercise their Constitutional right to vote. 

The bills build on the historic voting reforms passed under the Senate Democratic Majority during the 2019 Legislative Session. This new package of voting reforms includes Automatic Voter Registration, which will cut costs while improving voter participation and improvements to early voting to ensure adequate polling locations in communities throughout the state.

"The Senate Majority is building on the momentum of last year’s historic session and making it easier for New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote. While last year, some questioned our ability to effectively govern, the passage of further election reforms on the very first day of the 2020 session has made it clear that our journey from worst to first continues,” Senate Elections Committee Chair Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie said. 

The package of legislation includes several improvements to early voting, which was introduced by Senator Myrie and passed on the first day of the 2019 legislative session. 

“Our reforms to early voting are textbook good government,” Senator Myrie said. “We passed the law, gave the local boards time to implement it, examined the successes and challenges in a hearing post-implementation, and will now begin the process of incorporating that feedback. It's not quite School House Rock, but it's pretty close to how New Yorkers expect their government to work.”

The package also included a bill introduced by Senator Myrie, S.6805, which allows state and local transportation departments to provide voting registration and election day notifications on highway signs.

Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “This legislation is a no-brainer. With a simple change, we can use the signs we already have on our roads and highways to raise awareness about voter registration deadlines and upcoming elections to boost turnout in New York. Low cost, high reward. If our state is to go from worst to first in voter participation, we should use every tool at our disposal, and that’s what this bill does.”

The additional voting reforms passed by the Senate Democratic Majority include: 

  • Automatic Voter Registration (AVR): This bill, S.6457B, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, creates a system of automatic voter registration (AVR) within designated agency applications at the Departments of Health and Motor Vehicles. 
  • College or University Provided Polling Place: This bill, S.4378, sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker, provides that election districts shall not be drawn partly on or off a college campus. It also requires a polling location on the grounds of the college or university when there are 300 registered voters or more on the campus.
  • Ensuring Access to Early Voting for New York’s Population Centers: This bill, S.6754A, sponsored by Senator Neil Breslin requires that in each county, the municipality with the largest population contain at least one early voting location.
  • Voter Notifications: This bill, S.6805, sponsored by Senator Zellnor Myrie authorizes state and local transportation departments to provide important voting registration and Election Day information on message signs on highways.
  • Early Voting on Long Island: This bill, S.6922, sponsored by Senator Anna Kaplan will require that each town and city on Long Island have at least one early voting polling location.
  • High Population Early Voting Polls: This bill, S.6923A, sponsored by Senator Monica Martinez will require New York’s largest cities and towns to have at least one early voting polling site per 50 thousand registered voters. 
  • Accessible Early Voting: This bill, S.6925, Sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi will require all medium-sized towns and cities to have at least one early voting polling location.
  • Mobile Early Voting Locations: This bill, S.6926A, sponsored by Senator Rachel May will increase opportunities for early voting by providing counties, at local option, with the authority to allow early voting at portable polling locations.
  • Exempting Schools From Early Voting Locations: This bill, S.6930 sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger will exempt school buildings from being used as early polling sites.