Gov. Cuomo signs law allowing for early voting, preregistration for teens, closes funding loophole
Friday, January 25, 2019 - 5:51 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to allow for eight days of early voting before an election, synchronize federal and state primary elections, allow voter preregistration for teenagers, provide voter registration portability within the state, and close a campaign funding loophole.

According to a statement from his office, Cuomo signed these -- the first bills approved by the Legislature in the 2019 session — into law:

• a bill to close a loophole by capping political spending by a limited liability company – an LLC -- to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The bill will also require the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

• a bill enacting early voting to make voting more convenient for voters whose professional or family obligations make it difficult to physically get to the polls on election day, as well as reduce waiting times and ease logistical burdens for poll workers.

• a bill to unify federal and state primaries and elections and not hold them all on different days. New York State currently holds separate primary elections for state and federal elections. With the addition of a presidential primary every four years and a general election, this means that in some cases New York is holding four different elections in a year. This can be confusing to voters and wastes administrative resources. This bill will unify the federal and state primaries to ensure that voters only go to the polls once to choose their nominees.

• a bill allowing pre-registration for minors, so that 16- and 17-year-olds may pre-register to vote, meaning that a voter will automatically be registered on his or her 18th birthday.

• a bill to allow transfer of registration when a voter moves elsewhere in the state, without having to re-register in the new place. Now, when New Yorkers move to a different county, their voter registration does not move with them. This requires the voter to re-register with his or her new local board of elections as if he or she were registering for this first time. This bill will ensure that his or her voter registration will seamlessly go with them.

The governor also announced his pleasure at the passage by the Legislature of two resolutions for amendments to the state Constitution:

• No-excuse absentee voting by mail: The New York State Constitution currently restricts absentee ballots to individuals who provide a qualifying reason, such as absence from the county on Election Day or an illness or disability. This unnecessarily prevents New Yorkers from being able to vote by mail for reasons other than those currently listed in the constitution, or simply for convenience. This constitutional amendment will make absentee ballots available to any eligible voter, no matter their reason for wanting one, which will help make voting as accessible as possible.

• Same-day registration: The New York State Constitution prohibits voters from registering to vote less than 10 days before an election and still being able to vote in that election. In today's world with today's technology, there is no policy or administrative reason to prevent voters from registering to vote on the day of an election. This constitutional amendment will eliminate this outdated but formidable barrier to the ballot

Other measures Cuomo says he would like to see in future legislation include making Election Day a holiday, automatic registration during interactions between a potential voter and a state agency unless the citizen specifically asks that it not be done, registration online, and banning of corporate contributions to political campaigns.