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Schneiderman rallies for early voting

STAFF REPORTS


NEW YORK -- Attorney General Schneiderman, New York City elected officials, unions and grassroots organizations rallied at Foley Square to urge the New York State legislature to include early voting in the state budget due April 1st.

Early voting would allow eligible voters to cast ballots in-person days, sometimes weeks, before an election. Currently, 37 states already have some form of early voting, leaving New York as one of only 13 states without any means to vote early except via absentee ballot.

In February, Governor C uomo announced an historic 30-day amendment to his proposed budget that would provide approximately $7 million to New York counties to offer early voting up to 12 days in advance of Election Day. However, the Assembly's proposed one-house bill is only for 8 days, which is insufficient, while the Senate's proposed budget excludes early voting all together. The budget will be voted on at the end of this month.

"The right to vote is the right that protects all other rights," said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. "Yet New York's current voting system is an affront to the values of democracy on which this state was built. Early voting would be a critical step forward in the fight for more accessible elections. My office won't stop fighting to protect and expand voting rights for New Yorkers."

Attorney General Schneiderman has been a leader in the fight to reform New York's antiquated voting laws, detailing New York's voter access issues in a 2016 report, and introducing legislation to protect and expand voting rights.

"Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy -- and while we all know that voting is a fundamental right, our rhetoric is far ahead of our reality in New York. The simple fact is we've let New York's election laws atrophy, and we now have one of the worst voter turnout rates in the country," said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Ranking Member of the Senate Elections Committee and sponsor of early voting legislation. "Elected officials work for the voters -- and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure they can make their voices heard at the ballot box. New Yorkers should not be disenfranchised simply because they're busy on any given Tuesday. Early voting would allow seniors, working parents, those with non-traditional schedules, and every busy New Yorker to vote when it's convenient. This year, we have a real chance of making New York the 38th state with early voting, and we'll keep fighting to make sure this commonsense reform is included in the final budget."

"It's time for New York to do what 37 other states have already done and pass early voting. It's a non-partisan no brainer that 67% of New Yorkers support. Common Cause/NY joins with over 30 organizations from across the state in urging the legislature to follow the Governor's lead and include funding for early voting in the final budget. It's time to bring New York's antiquated system of elections into the 21st century," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

"Most states already give their citizens the option to cast their votes early. It's time for New York to catch up. Many New Yorkers cannot make it to the polls on Election Day, but still want-and deserve-to have their voices heard. The Brennan Center supports early voting as a crucial way to help more New Yorkers exercise their right to vote, and urges the New York State legislature to include early voting in the state budget," said Joanna Zdanys, Counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

A Siena Poll released in February shows that 67% of New Yorkers, including 60% of Upstate New Yorkers, 48% of Republicans, and 65% of suburban New Yorkers, support early voting. This percentage is up two points from January.