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Push for early voting in NY begins

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 1/11/2013, 1:23 p.m.
Push for early voting in NY begins

A state political official wants New York added to the list of states that participate in early voting.

Under legislation submitted by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Cusick, voters would be able to cast ballots at designated locations starting 14 days before a general election and seven days before a primary or special election.

Under the legislation, the boards of elections for each county and New York City would have to designate at least five polling places for early voting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the advance periods, including Saturdays and Sundays, which would be counted at the close of the polls on Election Day and included in that night's tallies.

It's a procedure that Silver said has taken too long to reach the Empire State.

"Our democracy thrives when we have as many citizens as possible participating in the electoral process," Silver said in a mid-December press release. Silver also introduced another bill that asks for increased public disclosure on campaign spending.

However, some conservative state politicians have come out against early voting, citing worries about how much it would cost the state to carry out the procedure. Others, like Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, cited worries about voter fraud. "I need to be assured that there would be safeguards in place to ensure there was no repeat voting," she told the Staten Island Advance. "And in these tough fiscal times, I would want to look closer at the expense."

But Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins thinks now is the time for New York to adopt early voting and wants the bill to come to the floor for a vote.

"Early voting is a smart approach to help increase the number of New Yorkers who take part in the democratic process," said Stewart-Cousins in an emailed statement. "The easier we make it for eligible voters to participate, the better it is for our democracy. Elections should be about the will of the people and not the special interests. Unfortunately, in this election cycle, we saw outside groups like Common Sense use unprecedented amounts of money to try to influence election outcomes and drown out the voice of everyday New Yorkers. We need stronger financial disclosure for political advocacy groups."

Stewart-Cousins said that she hoped that the bills would "be allowed to come to the floor for a vote."