Election reforms on way this year

With both houses of the New York State Legislature being led by the same political party this year as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Yorkers finally saw swift election reforms passed and signed into law by the governor at the start of the Legislature session in January.

¯ Early voting: The Legislature passed early voting for 2019 and voters will be able to cast ballots starting this year the ten days before the General Election and wrapping up the Sunday before the November elections. The County is required to have at least one early voting site open eight hours each day and until 8 p.m. two weekdays before the General Election. The County Board of Elections is looking at the possibility of more than the minimum one site for early voting that is required for a county our size.

¯ Consolidation of primary dates: In 2018 New York voters saw both a Federal Primary date in June and a State Primary in September. The State Legislature and governor have enacted legislation merging the two Primary dates, saving County taxpayers approximately $50,000 for each federal election that will be merged. The savings should be able to cover the cost of early voting.

¯ Portability of voter registrations: Voters who move from another county into Chautauqua County will now find that their voter registration will follow them into our county and voters will be able to cast a countable affidavit ballot on Election Day if they forgot to re-register when they moved into our county.

¯ Sixteen- and 17-year-old voters: Young drivers applying for a learner’s permit will now be able to pre-register to vote.

The state Legislature is moving forward on the process of changing the New York State Constitution to allow voting by absentee without needing an excuse of being out of the county or physically unable to get to the polls. Also, instant Election Day voter registration is being pursued for a State Constitution change.

In conclusion, 2019 is promising to be an exciting year for voters. Be assured that your elections staff in Mayville is ready and able to implement these election law changes.

Norman P. Green is Democratic Election Commissioner for the Chautauqua County Board of Elections.