Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, left, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, right. Photo by Jess String.
April 30, 2013Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, along with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, announced a bill that would allow early voting in general, primary and special elections in the state.
Under the legislation, there would be a 15-day early voting period prior to general elections and an eight-day early voting period for primary and special elections. Each local Board of Elections would designate at least four polling places for voters to cast an early ballot as well as at the local Board of Elections location.
"Democracy thrives when as many citizens as possible participate in the electoral process," Silver said. "Yet New Yorkers can only vote for a candidate or a ballot proposition during a set number of hours on a single day. For the health and vitality of our Democracy, our election laws must be changed."
The proposed bill (A.689-a) would allow early voting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends during the early voting period. The ballots cast would be counted at the close of the polls on Election Day and would be included in the election night tally.
"In recent years we have seen increasingly aggressive efforts to make it harder for millions of Americans to vote," said Schneiderman. "Here in New York we are pushing back. Early voting will reduce barriers to participation that particularly impact working people and ensure that all New Yorkers have an opportunity to participate in our democratic process."
According to a press release from Silver's office, voter participation was 59.5 percent in November 2012, making New York among the lowest in the nation.