Early Voting is Now the Law in NYS
Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed a series of Voting Reform bills into law, including early voting. Under the terms of the new law, early voting polling sites will be set up in every county of NYS.
Early voting, along with other policies in the package of reforms, is designed to provide greater access to voting in New York, which has some of the lowest voter turnout in the nation. Voting is one of our most important rights and responsibilities, enabling citizens to have a voice in our government and engage in the democratic process of electing local, state, and federal representatives.
To implement this new law, the state provided counties with $10 million for staffing and operations matters and $14 million for capital expenditures, including the purchasing and use of electronic poll books. Although, the true cost of early voting won't be known until after election day, November 5th.
What does this mean for voters in New York?
Voters in New York state now have 9 days before election day — beginning October 26th — to cast their ballots for the general election.
Early voting may be a different process than our voters are used to, with the use of an electronic poll book. This modernization will make it faster and easier to look up voter registration status and reduce possibility of errors.
Where do people vote?
This depends on the county, but there will be at least one early voting site in every county. The state law mandates counties to have at least one early voting site for every 50,000 registered voters. For counties with 350,000 or more registered voters, the minimum number of sites is seven.
The law requires counties to keep centers open at least five hours on weekends and eight hours on weekdays. They're also required to have evening hours at least two days during the week.
Voters should review their county board of election website to determine where they can vote.
Click here for a roster of County Boards of Elections contact information
What does this mean for counties?
County governments, through their boards of elections, conduct all elections in New York – federal, state, and local offices. Additional oversight, printing, staffing, and maintaining of polling stations over an extended period (rather than one day) will substantially add to the cost of running elections.
Not only that, but the general election ballot will have more than 700 county positions on it this year. So, in terms of testing out this new early voting system, counties are front and center
Looking Ahead to 2020
The State needs to continue to provide resources to counties to operate the new early voting system in future years. Next year, that funding will be vitally important.
New York will hold three elections in 2020: a presidential primary in April, a primary for federal and state legislative seats and local positions in June, and a general election in November. That means a total of 27 days of early voting next year.
Learn more: Resources for Early Voting
- Voting Reform Laws In New York State
- NYSAC published a whitepaper in June detailing the series of comprehensive election reform bills passed in the 2019 session, additional election reforms, state funding, and county reccomendations
- Preparing for Implementation: What the Election Law Reforms Mean for Your County
- NYSAC hosted a webinar in April examining the election law reforms that were passed during the 2019 legislative session. Presenters covered the perspective from the state board of elections and local boards of elections as implementation of the reforms gets underway.
- Vote 411
- The League of Women Voters is operating a nonpartisan election website called VOTE411. The website provides tools and information including early voting information, polling place location, and voting hours. The League anticipates helping more than 6 million voters in 2020.
- County Boards of Elections
- To view a complete roster of each county board of elections with contact information, compiled by the State Board of Elections, click on the link below.
In the News
- Why some NY counties chose to have more early voting sites than law requires – Auburn Citizen: OCT 21, 2019
- Early voting comes to New York – Times Union: OCT 19, 2019
- New York State Ready for Early Voters – Spectrum News: OCT 15, 2019
- Wide Differences In Early Voting Rules In NY – WAMC: SEP 24, 2019
- New York starts Early Voting next month – CNYCentral: SEP 1, 2019
- State Approves Full Funding for Early Voting – NYSAC Press Release: AUG 29, 2019