NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A5451
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the election law, in relation to the location of polling
sites for early voting in certain cities and towns
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill amends previously enacted early voting provisions to provide
that all medium-sized towns and cities in New York State must have at
least one early voting polling location.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section I: Amends § 8-600 of the Election Law to provide that, in cities
and towns with a population of more than fifty thousand but less than
one hundred thousand based on the latest federal decennial census, each
such city and town must have at least one early voting polling location.
If such cities and towns contain public transportation routes, such
polling places must be situated along such transportation routes to the
Section 2: Effective date.
Currently, the board of elections in each county must designate early
voting locations. There must be at least one early voting location for
every full increment of 50,000 voters in each county, with a maximum
required number of locations in each county set at seven. Polling plac-
es for early voting should be located so that voters in the county have
adequate and equitable access, taking into consideration population
density, travel time to the polling place, proximity to other early
voting poll sites, public transportation routes, commuter traffic
patterns, and other such factors the board of elections deems appropri-
In 2019, New York state lawmakers took historic steps in approving a
series of reforms intended to make New York's voting process easier,
more efficient, more transparent, and more accountable to its citizens.
Among these reforms were the scheduling of state and federal primaries
on the same day, automatic updating of voters' registrations when they
move, preregistration of those ages 16 and 17 prior to an election in
which they will be eligible to vote, and requirements that established
10 days of early voting which includes two full weekends prior to
With regard to early voting, the intent of the legislature was to
provide a flexible timeline within which voters can cast their ballots,
taking into account the reality that voters often have busy schedules,
vacations, and family obligations that can get in the way of voting on
election day. Early voting provides flexibility and a longer voting
process that encourages civic involvement by New York's citizens.
Key components of ensuring the success and accessibility of early voting
are the location and number of polling sites. The original legislation
set a minimum threshold for the number of polling locations, with one
polling location for each 50,000 voters. The legislature was also care-
ful to include provisions stating that when siting polling locations,
population density, travel time, and public transportation routes should
be key considerations. These provisions recognize that inaccessibility
to early voting polling locations will undermine the utility of the
early voting program.
Following analysis of early voting polling site locations following the
2019 election cycle, the State Legislature discovered that while almost
all medium-sized cities and towns in New York had at least one early
voting polling location, not all did. Because voters in medium to large-
sized municipalities tend to rely on public transportation (many do not
have personal automobiles) and because high population density can make
travel more time-consuming in these areas, not having a polling location
in these cities and towns can create significant barriers to access to
the voting system. The sponsor concludes that New York should protect
voter access by guaranteeing that all medium-sized cities and towns in
New York State must have at least one early voting polling location now
and in the future.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
To be determined.