Kavanagh Announces New Election Reform Law

Revises Affidavit Ballots To Increase Number Of Registered Voters And Reduce Delays And Confusion At Poll Sites
April 28, 2010
Albany – Deputy Majority Leader State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) announced today that their bill aimed at expanding the democratic process has been signed into law by Governor David Paterson. Klein and Kavanagh’s bill (S.5988/A.4015) makes it faster and easier for New Yorkers whose affidavit ballots are ruled invalid to become properly registered for future elections.

“Democracy is enhanced when we enact common sense measures like this to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in elections," said Assemblymember Kavanagh, Chair of the Assembly’s Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement. “And all voters will benefit from smoother operations and shorter lines at poll sites, as voter registration records are updated and fewer people attempt to cast their votes by affidavit ballot.”

The bill requires that the form voters submit with their affidavit ballot will double as a voter registration form in the event voters are not properly registered before the election. While the new law will not permit unregistered voters to register on Election Day for the current election, it will ensure that any eligible, unregistered New Yorker who fills out the ballot and form and whose vote is ruled invalid in the current election will become registered to vote in future elections.

“I am wholly committed to creating a more open, accessible, and responsible electoral process for all New Yorkers. First and foremost, this means breaking down barriers that keep eligible New Yorkers from becoming registered voters,” said State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).

Under current law, people who believe they are registered to vote are allowed to vote by affidavit ballot if they are at the correct polling place, but poll workers are unable to find their names on the list of registered voters. Affidavit voters, however, rarely confirm their registration status following the election. Many erroneously assume that their vote was counted, and that they are registered to vote in future elections.

In the 2001 general election, more than thirty thousand (31,116) affidavit ballots were received in New York City, with nearly half later ruled to be invalid.