Senator Borrello questions portable voting locations

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, debates Sen. Rachel May, D-Syracuse, on the state Senate floor on Monday.

Senate Republicans remain largely opposed to legislation that would allow portable voting locations during early voting.

Senators approved S.242 by a 43-17 vote Monday with Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, voting against the legislation. Borrello questioned the bill on the floor as he did when the Senate passed the same bill in 2021 and 2022. The bill wasn’t approved in the state Assembly before the end ofthe 2021 or 2022 legislative sessions. S.242 will now wait for possible action by the state Assembly between now and June.

“I think when we talk about a portable station it sounds like a nice idea,” Borrello said on the Senate floor Monday. “We want to send a food truck or a pop-up shop so people can vote wherever they want, but as you get into the details there is less and less details how we will ensure they are secure.”

Sen. Rachel May, D-Syracuse, is again the sponsor of the portable voting bill. She proposes allowing counties the option to establish two or more locations for portable polling places for no fewer than three consecutive days — though portable voting is not to replace or otherwise decrease the number of mandated early voting locations. The location of portable voting sites would have to be determined no more than 14 days before the election and be communicated by the county Board of Elections. One of Borrello’s questions to May was whether portable voting favors heavily populated areas over rural areas. May said discussion of population density is less about heavily populated cities and looking for areas where the most people gather, like shopping centers or a county’s major employers.

“Actually this is likely to be more helpful to rural areas than anyplace else,” May said. “In Idaho, when portable polling places were being enacted that was the idea, to make sure people in rural areas didn’t have to travel very far to access early voting. I know I have represented counties that have only one early voting polling place. This would enable them not to be committed to this one polling place for the entire early voting period, they could also put one for a few days at a place where they know a lot of residents of the county will be. So it actually can better for seniors, for people who live in remote areas but who gather in some particular place at a certain times of the week.”

Most of the floor debate centered on security. Borrello asked several times what types of guard rails are contained in the legislation to prevent fraudulent votes from being counted. May said the state’s criminal consequences for interfering with a polling place would apply to S.242, so there is no reason to think portable voting would be less secure than a county’s existing early voting sites. Borrello, in his remarks on the bill after the floor debate, said one way to make voting more secure — particularly in portable voting — is to require voters to present identification.

“We have a polling places now, it’s in a school. Schools have become, unfortunately, fortresses but they are secure for us to hold our elections and they are secure locations to ensure that overnight, wherever they might be, to be secure,” Borrello said. “But to do something like this with no real parameters as to what this looks like, we’re saying it could be portable, it could be pop-up, it could be on wheels, it might not be. And I do have a lot of concerns because at the end of the day in New York state you don’t have to show an ID. Someone could come up, knowing someone else’s address and their name and they could vote. That’s certainly the case in general in New York state because we should require something as simple as showing an ID to vote, but we’re going to make it that much more difficult o track and that much less secure with these portable voting stations.”


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