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Americans in 37 States Love Early Voting. Why Not New York?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New Yorkers are busy. Every day, we juggle work, school and family obligations. So, why do we get only one day to vote?

Currently, voters in 37 states enjoy the flexibility to vote early, including voters in five states that consistently have the highest voter participation rates in the country.

By contrast, the shortcomings of New York’s antiquated elections are more apparent than ever. Voter participation has hit record lows; in 2014 we ranked 49th in the nation for turnout. During the presidential primary last week, many voters experienced obstacles to casting their ballots.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Many of these problems could be avoided in future elections if state lawmakers were to adopt early voting. One of the bills in the Vote Better NY campaign, A8582/S3813A, would establish a 12-day voting period, including two full weekends before Election Day.

The popularity of early voting is clear. In 2012, nearly one-third of voters nationwide cast their ballots before Election Day. Voters expect convenience. We shop online, deposit checks on our smartphones, and have groceries delivered to our door. We should also have the opportunity to cast a ballot at a time that is convenient to us.

But early voting is not simply more convenient; rather it creates a better overall experience at the polls, both for voters and administrators. A 2013 Brennan Center report shows that giving voters more time to cast their ballots means fewer voters at the polls on Election Day. This reduces lines and wait times. It gives poll workers time to troubleshoot issues such as registration problems or malfunctioning machines without compromising voters’ right to cast a ballot.

Early voting is a common sense, tested reform that will bring our voting system into the 21st century. It promises to boost New York’s voter participation rate and reduce the administrative burdens of voting on a single day. It will help ensure no one is disenfranchised because of mechanical and registration mishaps.

Let your lawmakers in Albany know that it’s time to let New Yorkers vote early. Sign the Vote Better NY petition today!