Relates to early voting in the state of New York.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to early voting
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this bill is to establish early voting in primary, general and special elections in the State of New York.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends § 3-400(9) of the election law to provide that election inspectors at early voting locations shall be local board of elections employees as chosen by the commissioners of such board of elections on an equal and bipartisan basis.
Section 2 of the bill amends § 4-117 of the election law to ensure that early voting information, including days, hours and locations are mailed to registered voters as part of the "mail check" process.
Section 3 of the bill amends § 5-210(3) of the election law to require that any completed voter application form be received by any county board of elections, or postmarked to the same, not later than the fifteenth day before a special election.
Section 4 of the bill amends § 7-202(4) of the election law to allow county boards of elections the freedom to use existing ballot scanners at early voting locations or purchase new digital recording electronic voting machines for the same purpose.
Section 5 of the bill amends § 8-102 of the election law to add a new paragraph (k) which provides that when paper ballots are used in early voting locations the machines and locations shall, except where provided, be opened in the same manner as on election day.
Section 6 of the bill amends § 8-104 by adding a new subdivision 7 to require that the same polling place protocols that are observed on election day be extended to all early voting days.
Section 7 of the bill amends § 8-508(2)(b) of the election law to provide that a space for challenged early voters be included on the "challenge report".
Section 8 of the bill adds a new title VI (§ 8-600 & 8-602) to the election law entitled "Early Voting" and sets forth the parameters of such early voting.
§ 8-600 states:
* Early voting shall take place during the 14 days before a general election and the seven days before any primary election.
* Local boards of elections shall designate at least five polling places in each county for early voting and that such polling places
shall be geographically located so as to provide all voters in each county an equal opportunity to cast a ballot.
* Early voting hours shall be from 8:00 AM until 7:00 PM each day, including weekends.
* The board of elections shall notify every registered voter of the dates, hours and polling places available for early voting.
* The paper ballots cast during early voting shall be the same as those cast on election day. However, ballots cast during the early voting period shall not be canvassed until election night, and then, in the same manner as emergency ballots cast on election day.
* Voters casting ballots early shall be subject to challenge in the same manner as those voters casting ballots on election day.
* The names of those voters casting ballots early shall be recorded at the end of each day of early voting in an effort to ensure that early voters do not appear in election day poll books and thus cast a second ballot.
* Ballots cast during the early voting period shall not be canvassed until the polls close on election day.
* The State Board of Elections is empowered to create rules and regulations necessary to ensure the proper administration of the early voting scheme as set forth in this bill.
Section 9 of the bill is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, New York State's voter turnout rate for the 2012 general election was approximately 46.3. This is a 12% difference from the turnout in the 2008 general election. Though this year's turnout statistics may have been dampened due to the effects of Superstorm Sandy, the fact remains that New York has one of the lowest (third behind Hawaii and West Virginia) voter turnout rates in the United States.
Enhancing access to voting is perhaps the most effective way to raise the voter turnout rate in New York State. Early voting does just that.
There are many obstacles to in-person voting on Election Day in New York: polling place hours often conflict with work schedules, some voters have transportation issues, long lines and waits at polling places, etc. Early voting, alleviates several of these issues through its various provisions. Under this bill early voting will take place from 8:00 AM until 7:00 PM on every early voting day (even on weekends) in various (at least five) polling places throughout each county. Further, under the provisions of this legislation, New Yorkers will have the ability to cast a ballot up to 14 days before a general election and up to a week before a primary or special election. In addition, it is hoped that this convenient alternative to in-person voting on election day will ease the burden on election day polling sites by spreading out voting and thus shortening lines and wait times on election day.
It is time that New York State joins the 32 other states and the District Columbia and institute early voting. All New Yorkers, regardless of work schedule or personal and professional commitments should have the ability to vote in each and every election. Early voting will make voting easier, more convenient, and most importantly, more accessible in our State.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None
FISCAL IMPLICATION: There will be additional costs associated with staffing early voting locations as well as with printing and counting paper ballots associated with early voting, in addition to other unstated costs.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1461 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. STEWART-COUSINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to early voting THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 3-400 of the election law is amended by adding a new subdivision 9 to read as follows: 9. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY INCONSISTENT PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION, ELECTION INSPECTORS AT EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS, INCLUDING THOSE IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, SHALL CONSIST OF BOARD OF ELECTIONS EMPLOYEES WHO SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF SUCH BOARD OF ELECTIONS. APPOINTMENTS TO THE OFFICES OF ELECTION INSPECTOR OR POLL CLERK IN EACH EARLY VOTING LOCATION SHALL BE EQUALLY DIVIDED BY THE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES. S 2. Subdivision 1 of section 4-117 of the election law, as amended by chapter 288 of the laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows: 1. The board of elections, between August first and August fifth of each year, shall send by first class mail on which is endorsed "ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED" and which contains a request that any such mail received for persons not residing at the address be dropped back in the mail, a communication, in a form approved by the state board of elections, to every registered voter who has been registered without a change of address since the beginning of such year, except that the board of elections shall not be required to send such communications to voters in inactive status. The communication shall notify the voter of the days and hours of the ensuing primary and general elections, INCLUD- ING THE DAYS AND HOURS FOR EARLY VOTING AND THE LOCATIONS THEREFOR, the place where he appears by his registration records to be entitled to vote, the fact that voters who have moved or will have moved from the address where they were last registered must re-register or, that ifEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD05564-01-3 S. 1461 2
such move was to another address in the same county or city, that such voter may either notify the board of elections of his new address or vote by paper ballot at the polling place for his new address even if such voter has not re-registered, or otherwise notified the board of elections of the change of address. If the location of the polling place for the voter's election district has been moved, the communication shall contain the following legend in bold type: "YOUR POLLING PLACE HAS BEEN CHANGED. YOU NOW VOTE AT..........". The communication shall also indicate whether the polling place is accessible to physically disabled voters, that a voter who will be out of the city or county on the day of the primary or general election or a voter who is ill or physically disabled may obtain an absentee ballot, that a physically disabled voter whose polling place is not accessible may request that his registration record be moved to an election district which has a polling place which is accessible, the phone number to call for applications to move a registration record or for absentee ballot applications, the phone number to call for the location of registration and polling places, the phone number to call to indicate that the voter is willing to serve on election day as an election inspector, poll clerk, interpreter or in other capacities, the phone number to call to obtain an application for registration by mail, and such other information concerning the elections or registration as the board may include. In lieu of sending such communication to every registered voter, the board of elections may send a single communication to a household containing more than one registered voter, provided that the names of all such voters appear as part of the address on such communication. S 3. Subdivision 3 of section 5-210 of the election law, as amended by chapter 179 of the laws of 2005, is amended to read as follows: 3. Completed application forms, when received by any county board of elections and, with respect to application forms promulgated by the federal election commission, when received by the state board of elections, or showing a dated cancellation mark of the United States Postal Service or contained in an envelope showing such a dated cancel- lation mark which is not later than the twenty-fifth day before the next ensuing primary, general or special election, and received no later than the twentieth day before such election, or delivered in person to such county board of elections not later than the
[tenth]FIFTEENTH day before a special election, shall entitle the applicant to vote in such election, if he or she is otherwise qualified, provided, however, such applicant shall not vote on a voting machine until his or her identity is verified. Any county board of elections receiving an application form from a person who does not reside in its jurisdiction but who does reside elsewhere in the state of New York, shall forthwith forward such application form to the proper county board of elections. Each board of elections shall make an entry on each such form of the date it is received by such board. S 4. Subdivision 4 of section 7-202 of the election law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2005, is amended to read as follows: 4. Local boards of elections which obtain voting machines pursuant to this chapter may determine to purchase direct recording electronic machines or optical scan machines in conformance with the requirements of this chapter. LOCAL BOARDS OF ELECTIONS MAY PURCHASE DIRECT RECORD- ING ELECTRONIC MACHINES TO BE USED SOLELY FOR EARLY VOTING PURSUANT TO SECTION 8-600 OF THIS CHAPTER. LOCAL BOARDS OF ELECTIONS MAY CHOOSE TO EMPLOY EITHER BALLOT SCANNERS OR DIRECTION RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES FOR THE PURPOSE OF EARLY VOTING.S. 1461 3
S 5. Subdivision 1 of section 8-102 of the election law is amended by adding a new paragraph (k) to read as follows: (K) IF EARLY VOTING IS CARRIED OUT ON PAPER BALLOTS THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION, EXCEPT FOR PARAGRAPHS (H), (I) AND (J), SHALL APPLY TO EACH DAY OF EARLY VOTING AS PROVIDED FOR IN SECTION 8-600 OF THIS ARTI- CLE. FURTHER, AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH DAY OF EARLY VOTING THE INSPEC- TORS SHALL INSPECT THE BALLOT MARKING DEVICE TO SEE THAT IT IS IN GOOD WORKING ORDER; INSPECT THE PLACEMENT OF PRIVACY BOOTHS TO PRESERVE THE SECRECY OF VOTING; INSPECT THE SCREEN OF THE BALLOT MARKING DEVICE; INSPECT THE POLLING PLACE TO MAKE CERTAIN THERE IS NO WAY THAT ANYONE CAN VIEW ANY VOTING ACTION BY A VOTER AT THE BALLOT MARKING DEVICE OR IN A PRIVACY BOOTH; AND AFFIX A CONSPICUOUS NOTICE, IN THE FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, IN A PROMINENT PLACE NEAR THE BALLOT SCANNER AND IN THE PRIVACY BOOTH, INSTRUCTING THE VOTER ON HOW TO PROP- ERLY MARK A BALLOT IN ORDER TO HAVE HIS OR HER VOTE COUNTED. SUCH NOTICE SHALL BE PRINTED IN ENGLISH AND SUCH OTHER LANGUAGES AS THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS MAY DETERMINE TO BE APPROPRIATE. S 6. Section 8-104 of the election law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7 to read as follows: 7. THIS SECTION SHALL APPLY ON ALL EARLY VOTING DAYS AS PROVIDED FOR IN SECTION 8-600 OF THIS ARTICLE. S 7. Paragraph (b) of subdivision 2 of section 8-508 of the election law, as amended by chapter 200 of the laws of 1996, is amended to read as follows: (b) The second section of such report shall be reserved for the board of inspectors to enter the name, address and registration serial number of each person who is challenged on the day of election OR ON ANY DAY IN WHICH THERE IS EARLY VOTING PURSUANT TO SECTION 8-600 OF THIS ARTICLE, together with the reason for the challenge. If no voters are chal- lenged, the board of inspectors shall enter the words "No Challenges" across the space reserved for such names. In lieu of preparing section two of the challenge report, the board of elections may provide, next to the name of each voter on the computer generated registration list, a place for the inspectors of election to record the information required to be entered in such section two, or provide at the end of such comput- er generated registration list, a place for the inspectors of election to enter such information. S 8. Article 8 of the election law is amended by adding a new title 6 to read as follows: TITLE VI EARLY VOTING SECTION 8-600. EARLY VOTING. 8-602. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; POWERS AND DUTIES OF EARLY VOTING. S 8-600. EARLY VOTING. 1. BEGINNING THE FOURTEENTH DAY PRIOR TO ANY GENERAL ELECTION FOR ANY PUBLIC OR PARTY OFFICE, AND THE SEVENTH DAY PRIOR TO ANY PRIMARY OR SPECIAL ELECTION FOR ANY PUBLIC OR PARTY OFFICE, PERSONS DULY REGISTERED TO VOTE FOR CANDIDATES FOR SUCH OFFICE SHALL BE PERMITTED TO VOTE IN PERSON BY BALLOT FOR A CANDIDATE FOR SUCH OFFICE. 2. THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OF EACH COUNTY AND IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, SHALL DESIGNATE AT LEAST FIVE POLLING PLACES IN EACH COUNTY FOR PERSONS TO VOTE EARLY PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. SUCH POLLING PLACES SHALL BE GEOGRAPHICALLY LOCATED SO AS TO PROVIDE ALL VOTERS IN THE COUNTY AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO CAST A BALLOT, INSOFAR AS IS PRACTICABLE. THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4-104 OF THIS CHAPTER SHALL APPLY TO THE DESIGNATION OF POLLING PLACES FOR EARLYS. 1461 4
VOTING EXCEPT WHERE SUCH PROVISIONS ARE INCONSISTENT WITH THIS SUBDIVI- SION. 3. POLLS SHALL BE OPEN FOR EARLY VOTING FROM EIGHT O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING UNTIL SEVEN O'CLOCK IN THE EVENING EACH DAY, INCLUDING SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. 4. THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHALL NOTIFY EVERY REGISTERED VOTER OF THE DATES, HOURS AND POLLING PLACES AVAILABLE FOR EARLY VOTING. 5. THE FORM OF PAPER BALLOTS, IF USED IN EARLY VOTING, SHALL COMPLY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE SEVEN OF THIS CHAPTER THAT ARE APPLICABLE TO VOTING BY PAPER BALLOT ON ELECTION DAY AND SUCH BALLOT SHALL BE CAST IN THE SAME MANNER AS PROVIDED FOR IN SECTION 8-312 OF THIS ARTICLE, PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT BALLOTS CAST DURING EARLY VOTING SHALL NOT BE DEPOSITED IN A SCANNER, BUT RATHER IN A SECURE STORAGE CONTAINER. 6. VOTERS CASTING BALLOTS PURSUANT TO THIS TITLE SHALL BE SUBJECT TO CHALLENGE AS PROVIDED IN SECTIONS 8-500, 8-502 AND 8-504 OF THIS ARTI- CLE. 7. PAPER BALLOTS CAST PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE CANVASSED AT THE CLOSE OF THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY IN THE SAME MANNER AS SPECIFIED IN SECTION 9-110 OF THIS CHAPTER, PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT SUCH EARLY VOTED BALLOTS SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENT THAT SUCH ELECTION DAY PAPER BALLOTS SHALL NOT HAVE BEEN SCANNED BECAUSE A BALLOT SCANNER WAS NOT AVAILABLE OR BECAUSE THE BALLOT HAD BEEN ABANDONED BY A VOTER AT THE BALLOT SCANNER. BALLOTS CAST ON DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES SHALL BE CANVASSED ACCORDING TO THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS AS PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO SECTION 8-602 OF THIS ARTICLE. 8. AT THE CLOSE OF EACH DAY OF EARLY VOTING THE NAMES OF THOSE VOTERS WHO VOTED EARLY SHALL BE RECORDED BY THE COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS OR BY THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK TO ENSURE THAT THOSE VOTERS DO NOT VOTE A SECOND TIME ON ELECTION DAY. 9. NO EARLY BALLOTS CAST PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE CANVASSED IN ANY WAY PRIOR TO THE CLOSE OF THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY. S 8-602. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; POWERS AND DUTIES FOR EARLY VOTING. ANY RULE OR REGULATION NECESSARY FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THIS TITLE SHALL BE PROMULGATED BY THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS PROVIDED THAT SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS SHALL INCLUDE PROVISIONS TO ENSURE THAT BALLOTS CAST EARLY, BY ANY METHOD ALLOWED UNDER LAW, ARE COUNTED AND CANVASSED AS IF CAST ON ELECTION DAY AND TO REQUIRE THAT THE OPENING OF EARLY VOTING POLLS IN COUNTIES USING DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES, SHOULD ANY COUNTIES USE DIRECT ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES, INCLUDE PROVISIONS REQUIRING DAILY INSPECTION OF THE MACHINES TO ENSURE GOOD WORKING ORDER, DEMARCATION OF THE ONE HUNDRED FOOT NO ACTIVITY ZONE AROUND THE POLLING PLACE AND ANY OTHER RULES AND REGULATIONS NECESSARY TO ENSURE AN EFFICIENT AND FAIR EARLY VOTING PROCESS THAT RESPECTS THE PRIVACY OF THE VOTER. PROVIDED FURTHER THAT SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS SHALL REQUIRE THAT THE VOTING HISTORY RECORD FOR EACH VOTER BE CONTINUALLY UPDATED TO REFLECT EACH INSTANCE OF EARLY VOTING BY SUCH VOTER. S 9. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.