(Click here to read this op-ed on Syracuse.com)
Earlier this year the Democratic Caucus of the New York State Election Commissioners Association formally endorsed Early Voting in New York State. The support for this voting reform was nearly unanimous within our caucus. The time is now for New York State to enact this vital reform. For five years New York has remained in limbo on the question of Early Voting and the corresponding funding. During that time we have seen other states not only enact Early Voting but in many cases expand its usage. There are now 37 states, the vast majority of the country, that allow their citizens the option of casting votes before Election Day. It is time for New York State to become the 38th state.
In our modern day society there is more pressure than ever on our time. We have single parent households and dual income households trying to balance the needs of long work hours with childcare and school activities. Commuters face delays that are out of their control. Family and medical emergencies can further put demands on our already limited time. The concept of voting only in a single 15 hour period on a Tuesday in November is antiquated and does not take into account our modern needs. Early Voting is one of the most vocal demands of citizens coming to our Board of Election offices in the days leading up to Election Day. They see other states have this convenience and want that option here in our state.
Early Voting has become needlessly partisan in New York. We see across the country that every demographic and every ideology enjoys the benefit of Early Voting. Large, small, red, blue, and purple states like Texas, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, California, Virginia and Oklahoma have all adopted Early Voting and seen its popularity increase. Early Voting is already a popular demand in New York. A January 16, 2018 Siena College Poll shows 65% of those polled (73% Democrats; 49% Republicans; 68% Independents) are in favor of “Instituting early voting in New York like it exists in dozens of other states.”
Below is a letter written by Onondaga County State Elected Officials supporting early voting: http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/03/valesky_hunter_magnarelli_stirpe_adopt_early_voting_in_ny_your_letters.html
I am pleased that Governor Cuomo and Legislative leaders have determined that this is the year to propose meaningful electoral reform and expand accessibility with early voting. New York has lagged in electoral reform, preventing many citizens from meaningful participation in the Democratic process. The proposed legislation, coupled with a State appropriation to counties and the City of New York to reduce the financial burden on our local Boards of Elections, gives New Yorkers the accessibility to the ballot box that they deserve. This is a long overdue step for the State of New York and when passed, will relieve New Yorkers of the choice between voting and fulfilling personal, family or professional obligations.
The Democratic Caucus of the New York State Election Commissioners Association urges the New York State Legislature to pass funding for Early Voting in this year’s budget and commit to funding in the years to come. By passing Early Voting this year it will allow the Boards of Elections to implement Early Voting in 2019. It is important that we do not delay another year. Early Voting should be perfected for the 2020 Presidential Election season where fervent turnout is expected. The time is now for New York to join the vast majority of the country. Pass Early Voting and its funding in this year’s budget and New Yorkers can enjoy the convenience the rest of the country already enjoys.
If you also want Early Voting it is important your state representatives hear from you. Call them and demand Early Voting stay legislation and funding is passed in this year’s budget.
Dustin M. Czarny
NYSECA Democratic Caucus Chair
Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner (D)