Senate Dems Float Legislative Package To Fix State Election Laws


State Senator Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, Starrett City) and Diane Savino (D-Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Sunset Park, Staten Island) alongside other members of the Senate Democratic Conference announced a legislative package that would help ease access to voting and increase voter participation today.

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud
Sen. Diane Savino

The package comes off the heels of the release of a survey that outlined several potential causes for New York’s significantly low voter turnout rate. The report, Why Don’t More New Yorkers Vote? A Snapshot Identifying Low Voter Turnout, details a survey conducted with New Yorkers who did not participate in the 2016 General Election despite being eligible to vote. The survey highlighted potential causes for New York’s dismal record on voting participation, ranking 41st in the nation following the 2016 General Election.

Key findings from the survey include:
– 79% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote in an election if early voting was enacted.
– 76% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote in an election if no-excuse absentee voting was enacted.
– 81% of respondents who live in counties with voting hours from 12:00 – 9:00 PM on primary day said they would be more likely to vote in an election if voting hours were extended to 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM.
– 28% of respondents said they have missed an election because of work or school obligations.

To address these findings and strengthen the democratic process in New York State, Senate Democrats have championed a series of bills that will enable early voting and no-excuse absentee voting, modernize and expand voter registration, extend Primary Election voting hours and ensure uniformity throughout the state, and expand language options for ballots.

“State government should make it easier for New Yorkers to exercise their Constitutional right to vote in our democracy. We should lead the nation in encouraging citizens to be actively engaged in the Democratic process. The bills my colleagues and I are supporting will help more New Yorkers get to the polls and have a say in the future of our state. Empowering New Yorkers to have a more active role in their state government should not be a partisan or controversial issue,” said Persaud.

Some of the bills in the package include the Voter Empowerment Act, S.3304, would create a modern voter registration system that will reduce costs for processing voter registrations and maintain complete and accurate voter registration lists; Automatic Voter Registration, S.3409, would automatically register voters who interact with most state or local agencies unless they affirmatively opt not to do so; Consolidation of Federal and State Primaries, S.3562-A, that would save tax-payer dollars and make state primary elections the same day as federal primary elections. It also ensures that New York State’s election law complies with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, amongst other legislation.

“It is our responsibility as elected officials to ensure that New Yorkers can exercise their right to vote without any hurdles. New York is a melting-pot of people from all walks of life and unique backgrounds; we should never rank among the lowest in the nation for voter participation. It is time to step up and encourage our diverse citizens to become more civically engaged, by making the process more convenient and less convoluted,” said Savino.