As the Ranking Minority Member of the Assemblys Election Law Committee, Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,I,C,Ref-Lockport) today brought his experience as an elections attorney to the debate over a package of bills that would open up voting in New York State.
It is crucial that every citizen who wants to be a registered voter has the opportunity to participate in our electoral process, said Norris. I am proud to have voted today to support that goal by removing barriers that prevented voters from obtaining absentee ballots. Once approved as a constitutional amendment any registered voter would be able to obtain a no excuse needed absentee ballot, allowing many more New Yorkers to vote with greater convenience. This is a common-sense measure to reduce costs, increase participation and maintain the sanctity of our elections.
I voted to further clean up and reform Albany by closing the LLC loophole, a measure that has allowed outside influences to control our state Capitol for too long, Norris stated, I was also proud to stand up for overtaxed citizens by voting to consolidate primary elections in our state. Having more than one primary date is not only confusing to the public, but also extremely costly to local governments and disruptive to the regular business of New Yorkers who want to vote as well as the locations serving as polling places. This was an unfunded mandate that I am happy to vote to lift and also will streamline and simplify voting.
Norris led the debate on legislation that would allow for early voting, a measure that would require elections to be held for 10 days at the expense of local governments. Norris pointed out that not only would municipalities face an even greater expense and inconvenience (schools being disrupted to serve as polling sites for 10 days), but it could cause greater confusionÂ for the public because they may or may not be allowed to early vote at their regular polling site and if they are forced to go to a different location it may increase the possibility that they will receive an incorrect ballot for their election district. Further, Norris talked about how new information about a candidate, current event or ballot issue may become available closer to an election that could sway voters choices. There are also more concerns over voter fraud than with other proposed reforms to increase voter participation. He said, Simply put, with a no excuse needed absentee ballot, we do not need early voting.
Norris also pointed to a May 5, 2017 editorial from the Lockport Union Sun and Journal regarding early voting which stated, The numbers say a lot about the state of affairs in New York state, to be sure, but this problem is not one that politicians should try to fix by approving more legislation and imposing what would amount to be another unfunded mandate from Albany. For people who already do not exercise their right to vote and do not fully appreciate the privilege, a few more days wont make any difference. The truth is, the length of the lines at their neighborhood polling place never had anything to do with their choice not to choose.
Norris encourages any citizen who is not registered to vote to contact their local county board of elections to learn more about how they can register or by going online to: www.elections.ny.gov/votingregister.html.