State politicians push early voting in ballot-law overhaul

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New York state is about to catch up to the rest of the country when it comes to voting.

Both houses of the Legislature are scheduled to pass election reforms Monday, including an “early voting” option that is already the law in 38 states.

That would allow voters to cast ballots at polling sites on the two weekends before Election Day.

Lawmakers also plan to enact a law to hold congressional and legislative primaries on the same day.

Under a bizarre election calendar, New York is the only state in the nation that holds party primary elections on separate days, in June for Congress and in September for state legislative seats.

Senate Elections Committee chair Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) said that leaves lots of voters confused about just when to cast their ballots.

Good-government groups have been clamoring for such reforms for years.

“New York’s elections are broken. Our voting laws are so antiquated, they disenfranchise thousands of voters every election,” Common Cause New York complains on its website.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly and state Senate also plan to pass two other proposals that would allow same-day voter registration and “no excuse” voting by mail, although both bills would have to be approved as constitutional amendments, which would take several years.

Fifteen states already allow voters to register on Election Day.

Under current New York law, a new voter-registration application must be postmarked 25 days before a primary or general election or be delivered in person to the local Board of Elections at least 10 days before ballots are cast.

Twenty-seven states and Washington, DC, permit voting by mail.

The state Constitution allows absentee voting, but only for residents who won’t physically be in their county of residence on Election Day or are too ill to make it to the polls.

Lawmakers also plan to place limited-liability companies in the same category as corporations, which have a campaign contribution cap of $5,000 to all candidates per year.

At present, LLCs are treated like individual donors, who have no such limit.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will almost certainly sign the measures into law once they hit his desk. He has included many of the proposals in his 2019 legislative agenda.

The sudden activity in election reform comes months after Democrats wrested control of the Senate from Republicans.

The proposals previously stalled in the GOP-led Senate.

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