BILL NO A08636
SAME AS No same as
SPONSOR Kavanagh (MS)
COSPNSR Cymbrowitz, Reilly, Rosenthal, Colton, Millman, Clark, Hooper
MLTSPNSR Boyland, Brennan, Brook-Krasny, Kellner, Lancman, Lifton, Lopez V,
McEneny, Perry, Weisenberg
Rpld S4-116 subs 2 & 3, S4-108 sub 1 c & d, S5-204 sub 4 & S4-117 sub 2, amd
SS4-120, 4-128, 4-117 & 16-100, add Art 7 Title III SS7-300 - 7-316, El L
Provides for the state board of elections to prepare and distribute to each
voter a ballot pamphlet for every general election; provides for contents
thereof and makes numerous related provisions including the distribution of
information relating to each ballot proposal that is submitted to a statewide
vote at such general election; provides that candidates may submit a biography
to be included in the statewide election pamphlet; permits any person eligible
to vote on any ballot proposal to institute a proceeding as to the factual
accuracy of statements or constitutional amendments.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A8636
SPONSOR: Kavanagh (MS)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to the
preparation, contents and distribution of a paper pamphlet containing
information relative to general elections, to repeal certain provisions
of the election law, relating to distribution of copies of proposed
amendments to the constitution or other propositions or questions; and
providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof
PURPOSE: To provide the public with information on statewide ballot
proposals and candidates for elected office.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill amends article 7 of the election law
by adding a new title 3 which provides for the content, preparation, and
distribution of a ballot pamphlet.
Section 7-302 provides that it is the.duty of the state board of
elections to prepare and distribute ballot pamphlets, but it may dele-
gate that responsibility to county boards.
Section 7-304 provides for the contents of the pamphlet, including: the
date and hours during which the polls will be open, voter qualification
requirements, how one can register to vote, how to apply for an absentee
ballot, instructions on usage of affidavit ballots, other information
deemed necessary. This will include information on ballot initiatives
and candidates for office.
Section 7-306 requires the board to certify and make public the final
contents of the guide no later than sixty days before the election.
Section 7-310 allows for the state board to instruct county boards to
print the ballot if it is deemed more efficient and economical. If this
occurs, the county board shall be promptly reimbursed for the cost of
Section 7-312 provides that a copy of the pamphlet be distributed to at
least one registered voter in. each household.
Section 7-316 provides for the timing of the submission of candidate
information and its content. In addition, it provides for the placement
of candidate information on the board of elections website.
JUSTIFICATION: Voters too often know little or nothing about ballot
proposals and candidates when they step into the voting booth. This
unfortunate and dangerous reality requires the legislature to work to
ensure that this information is easily available to the electorate.
This legislation will ensure that the voting public has the information
at its disposal to make informed decisions on election day. In addition,
the information in the pamphlet, including qualification requirements
and the use of affidavit ballots, will serve to counteract forms of
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011: A01226 (Bing) - Election Law 2010: A01641 (Bing) - Election Law
2009: A01641 (Bing) - Election Law 2008: A08286 (Bing) - Election Law
2007: A08286 (Bing) - Election Law
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Minimal to State Board of Elections.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect April 1, 2013 and shall
expire May 1, 2017, when upon such date the provisions of this act shall
be deemed repealed.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2011-2012 Regular Sessions
September 21, 2011
Introduced by M. of A. KAVANAGH, CYMBROWITZ, REILLY, ROSENTHAL, COLTON,
MILLMAN, CLARK, HOOPER -- Multi-Sponsored by -- M. of A. BOYLAND,
BRENNAN, BROOK-KRASNY, KELLNER, LANCMAN, LIFTON, V. LOPEZ, McENENY,
PERRY, WEISENBERG -- read once and referred to the Committee on
AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to the preparation,
contents and distribution of a paper pamphlet containing information
relative to general elections, to repeal certain provisions of the
election law, relating to distribution of copies of proposed amend-
ments to the constitution or other propositions or questions; and
providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Subdivisions 2 and 3 of section 4-116 of the election law
2 are REPEALED.
3 § 2. Paragraphs c and d of subdivision 1 of section 4-108 of the
4 election law are REPEALED and subdivision 3, as added by chapter 234 of
5 the laws of 1976, is amended to read as follows:
6 3. The attorney general shall advise in the preparation of such
7 [abstract and such] form of submission.
8 § 3. The opening paragraph of subdivision 1 of section 4-120 of the
9 election law, as amended by chapter 359 of the laws of 1989, is amended
10 to read as follows:
11 The board of elections shall publish once in each of the two weeks
12 preceding a general election, or a special or village election conducted
13 by the board of elections, a notice specifying the day of the election,
14 and the public officers to be voted for within such county, or any part
15 thereof at such election. [If constitutional amendments, or questions
16 are to be submitted to the voters of the state, the notice shall state
17 that fact and that a copy of each such amendment or question may be
18 obtained at the board of elections, by any voter.] Such publication
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 8636 2
1 shall be in two newspapers published within the county. If the county
2 contains a city or cities, at least one of such newspapers shall be
3 published in the city, or the largest city, if there be more than one.
4 § 4. Subdivision 1 of section 4-128 of the election law, as amended by
5 chapter 125 of the laws of 2011, is amended to read as follows:
6 1. The board of elections of each county shall provide the requisite
7 number of official and facsimile ballots, two cards of instruction to
8 voters in the form prescribed by the state board of elections, five
9 copies of each ballot pamphlet, at least one copy of the instruction
10 booklet for inspectors, a sufficient number of maps, street finders or
11 other descriptions of all of the polling places and election districts
12 within the political subdivision in which the polling place is located
13 to enable the election inspectors and poll clerks to determine the
14 correct election district and polling place for each street address
15 within the political subdivision in which the polling place is located,
16 distance markers, tally sheets and return blanks, pens, black ink, or
17 ball point pens with black ink, pencils having black lead, envelopes for
18 the ballots of voters whose registration poll records are not in the
19 ledger or whose names are not on the computer generated registration
20 list, envelopes for returns, identification buttons, badges or emblems
21 for the inspectors and clerks in the form prescribed by the state board
22 of elections and such other articles of stationery as may be necessary
23 for the proper conduct of elections, except that when a town, city or
24 village holds an election not conducted by the board of elections, the
25 clerk of such town, city or village, shall provide such official and
26 facsimile ballots and the necessary blanks, supplies and stationery for
27 such election.
28 § 5. Subdivision 4 of section 5-204 of the election law is REPEALED
29 and subdivisions 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are renumbered subdivisions 2,
30 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
31 § 6. Subdivision 2 of section 4-117 of the election law is REPEALED
32 and subdivision 3 is renumbered subdivision 2.
33 § 7. Article 7 of the election law is amended by adding a new title 3
34 to read as follows:
35 TITLE III
36 BALLOT PAMPHLET
37 Section 7-300. Legislative findings.
38 7-302. State board of elections to prepare ballot pamphlet.
39 7-304. Contents of ballot pamphlet.
40 7-306. Preparation of ballot proposal materials.
41 7-308. State immunity.
42 7-310. Printing.
43 7-312. Distribution.
44 7-314. Authorization to local communities.
45 7-316. Candidate biographies.
46 § 7-300. Legislative findings. The legislature hereby finds and
47 declares that the purpose of this title and of the ballot pamphlet is to
48 fully and fairly inform the electorate about the candidates and about
49 the issues appearing on the ballot. The state board of elections shall
50 undertake its responsibilities in the manner best calculated to, and all
51 the provisions herein shall be construed so as to accomplish that goal.
52 § 7-302. State board of elections to prepare ballot pamphlet. It shall
53 be the duty of the state board of elections, hereinafter referred to as
54 the state board, to prepare and distribute a ballot pamphlet, in the
55 manner set out in this title, for every general election conducted in
56 the state in any year in which the majority of the seats in the assembly
A. 8636 3
1 are open to election. Not later than January thirty-first of each year,
2 the state board shall fix and announce the dates for all deadlines
3 provided for by this title. The state board of elections may delegate
4 this duty to county boards of elections to prepare pamphlets for their
5 own county.
6 § 7-304. Contents of ballot pamphlet. Each ballot pamphlet shall
7 contain the following material and no other material. 1. An introductory
8 statement shall be prepared by the state board explaining:
9 (a) The date and hours during which the polls will be open for the
10 general election;
11 (b) Voter qualification requirements in New York state;
12 (c) When, where, and how to register to vote;
13 (d) When, where and how absentee ballots are obtained and used;
14 (e) Instructions on how to vote, including the use of affidavit
15 ballots; and
16 (f) Any other general information on voting deemed necessary or useful
17 to the electorate or otherwise consistent with the goals of this article
18 by the state board.
19 2. The following statement, printed in boldface type, shall follow the
20 introductory statement and precede materials related to ballot
22 IMPORTANT: This pamphlet contains information on candidates running
23 for elected office and on proposals which will be on the ballot state-
24 wide. There may also be proposals of local interest on the ballot in
25 your community. For information on these local proposals, contact your
26 local board of elections and see your local newspaper.
27 3. Materials shall be prepared for each ballot proposal to be submit-
28 ted to a statewide vote at the general election. Such materials shall be
29 prepared as prescribed in section 7-306 of this title, and shall include
30 the following:
31 (a) A true copy of the form of the ballot proposal, as it will appear
32 on the ballot, set out in boldface or italic type at the top of the
34 (b) A concise, impartial, and understandable explanation, not to
35 exceed five hundred words, stating the nature and effect of the ballot
37 (c) The full text of the ballot proposal, which shall be printed so as
38 to indicate by the use of italic type the matter if any that would be
39 added to the state constitution of law, and by the use of brackets the
40 matter if any that would be deleted therefrom; and
41 (d) An explanation of such use of italic type and brackets, as
42 described in paragraph (c) of this subdivision.
43 4. Candidate biography information obtained pursuant to section 7-316
44 of this title.
45 5. A clear and legible statement informing individuals that they may
46 access candidate biography information on the board's website and
47 include the address of such website.
48 § 7-306. Preparation of ballot proposal materials. 1. All materials
49 required by subdivision three of section 7-304 of this title shall be
50 prepared by the state board of elections.
51 2. The state board shall certify and make public the final contents of
52 the ballot pamphlet no later than sixty days before the election at
53 which the measure is to appear on the ballot.
54 § 7-308. State immunity. No cause of action shall arise against the
55 state of New York or any agency or employee thereof with respect to such
A. 8636 4
1 ballot pamphlet except as caused by the negligence or willful acts of
2 the state or of its agents or employees.
3 § 7-310. Printing. 1. The state board shall cause the ballot pamphlet
4 to be printed in as legible a manner as possible consistent with the
5 purpose of this title. In the event that the state board determines that
6 the printing of the ballot pamphlet would be more efficient and econom-
7 ical if done by the local boards of elections, the state board is hereby
8 authorized to instruct all boards of elections to print the ballot
9 pamphlet. Should the state board so instruct the boards of elections, it
10 shall promptly reimburse each board for the actual cost of production
11 incurred by said board.
12 2. The state board or the local boards of elections as provided for in
13 subdivision one of this section, shall also prepare and cause to be
14 printed, and distribute to such voters as it deems appropriate, a trans-
15 lation of the ballot pamphlet into Spanish, Russian, and any other
16 languages required to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as
18 § 7-312. Distribution. 1. There shall be no charge for single copies
19 of the ballot pamphlet.
20 2. In addition to the requirements of section 7-300 of this title, in
21 every general election in which a ballot proposal is on the statewide
22 ballot, the state board shall cause a copy of the ballot pamphlet to be
23 distributed to at least one registered voter in each household. In the
24 event the state board determines that distribution of the ballot
25 pamphlet would be more efficient and economical if done by the local
26 boards of elections, the state board is hereby authorized to instruct
27 all boards of elections to distribute the ballot pamphlet to at least
28 one registered voter in each household. Should the state board so
29 instruct the boards of elections, it shall provide a sufficient number
30 of ballot pamphlets to each board of elections and shall promptly reim-
31 burse each board for the actual cost of postage incurred by said board
32 in distributing the pamphlet provided that said board utilize the lowest
33 feasible postage rate charged by the United States postal service. The
34 distribution of the ballot pamphlets to registered voters or households
35 shall be made between twenty and forty days before the election to which
36 they pertain.
37 3. Sufficient copies shall also be provided to boards of elections to
38 permit each such board to supply five copies to each election district.
39 4. In addition to providing a sufficient number of copies of the
40 pamphlet to comply with subdivisions two and three of this section, the
41 state board shall cause to be printed at least fifty thousand additional
42 copies and provide them to those persons, organizations and other enti-
43 ties that request them, at no charge, provided that the state board may
44 impose a charge for bulk orders of greater than five copies and may set
45 limits on the total number of copies that any single individual, organ-
46 ization or other entity may obtain upon request.
47 5. In addition to all printed materials, the board shall have a copy
48 of the pamphlet available on its website in a printer-friendly format.
49 § 7-314. Authorization to local communities. The legislative bodies of
50 all cities, towns and counties are hereby authorized to enact legis-
51 lation consistent with the provisions of this title which would enable
52 questions, propositions, and issues on the ballot in such cities, towns
53 and counties to be presented to voters by means of a ballot pamphlet.
54 Any such pamphlet may, with the approval of the state board, be mailed
55 together with the statewide ballot pamphlet. The additional expense of
A. 8636 5
1 preparing, printing and distributing such a pamphlet shall be paid by
2 such city, town or county.
3 § 7-316. Candidate biographies. 1. Any candidate seeking nomination or
4 election at the next general election to any public office, or a desig-
5 nated agent acting on behalf of such candidate, may, at least eight
6 weeks prior to the general election, file with the board of elections
7 with which nominating and designating petitions and certificates for
8 such office are filed pursuant to section 6-144 of this chapter a sworn
9 statement setting forth the candidate's occupation, educational and
10 occupational background, prior governmental experience, and any other
11 personal background or experience that the candidate deems relevant to
12 the election campaign.
13 2. The state board of elections shall, by regulation, establish the
14 format and length of the statement authorized under this section and
15 shall provide to candidates a standardized form for preparing such
17 3. Within five days after the last day for filing statements under
18 this section, all local boards of elections shall forward all such
19 candidate biographies to the state board of elections in electronic form
20 in a manner to be prescribed by the state board of elections.
21 4. Within five days of receipt of any candidate biographies from the
22 local boards of elections, the state board of elections shall cause all
23 such information contained in said candidate biographies to be made
24 available at all times on the state board of elections website until one
25 day after the election.
26 5. The state board of elections shall incorporate all the information
27 it receives into the pamphlet as authorized pursuant to subdivision four
28 of section 7-304 of this title.
29 6. In the event that any candidate biographies received by the state
30 board of elections, from any local board of elections, is not in elec-
31 tronic form, the state board of elections shall, within ten days after
32 receipt of such candidate biography, convert such candidate biography to
33 electronic form, and cause said candidate information to be made avail-
34 able at all times on the state board of elections website until one day
35 after the election.
36 § 8. Subdivision 2 of section 16-100 of the election law, as amended
37 by section 4 of part E of chapter 399 of the laws of 2011, is amended to
38 read as follows:
39 2. The county court is vested with jurisdiction to summarily determine
40 any question of law or fact except proceedings as to a nomination or
41 election at a primary election or a nomination at a judicial convention,
42 proceedings as to the casting and canvass of ballots, proceedings for
43 examination or preservation of ballots and proceedings to enforce the
44 provisions of article fourteen of this chapter and proceedings as to the
45 contents of statements on constitutional amendments, questions and
47 § 9. On or before March 1, 2017 the board of elections shall submit a
48 report to the governor and the legislature evaluating the effectiveness
49 of ballot pamphlets as a tool to increase voter awareness, registration
50 and participation. Such report shall include statistics on voter partic-
51 ipation both before and after ballot pamphlets were distributed and
52 findings and recommendations on continuing and improving title 3 of
53 article 7 of the election law.
54 § 10. This act shall take effect April 1, 2013 and shall expire May 1,
55 2017, when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed
A. 8636 6
REPEAL NOTE.--Subdivisions 2 and 3 of section 4-116 of such law,
proposed to be repealed by this act, provides for publication of
proposed constitutional amendments.
Paragraphs c and d of subdivision 1 of section 4-108 of such law,
proposed to be repealed by this act, provide for a transmittal to county
boards of an abstract of proposed constitutional amendments and for the
form of the proposed constitutional amendment.
Subdivision 4 of section 5-204 of the election law, proposed to be
repealed by this act, provides for distribution of copies of proposed
constitutional amendments and questions at local registration.
Subdivision 2 of section 4-117 of such law, proposed to be repealed by
this act, provides for mailing copies of proposed constitutional amend-
ments and questions to registered voters.