Early Voting is Underway in Dozens of States, But Not in New York

While voters in nearly three-dozen states are able to cast their ballots in the presidential race before Election Day, New York is not one of them. Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio is joining the effort to modernize the state's voting laws, which critics say are stuck in the past. State House Reporter Zack Fink has more.

The deadline to register to vote in New York State was last week, and to highlight the occasion, Mayor de Blasio made a last-minute push to get New Yorkers to register, urging state leaders to adopt ballot reforms like same-day voter registration and early voting.

"The laws of New York State discourage participation in the Democratic process," de Blasio said. "That is a fact. We do not have an approach to elections that make it easy that fits the reality of modern life."

Thirty-four states, highlighted here in dark grey, currently allow early voting, meaning that voting in this year's presidential election is already underway in most states. New York is one of only six states, shown here in yellow, that allow people to vote early by absentee ballot, but only with an excuse.

This year, the Democratic-controlled State Assembly passed a series of voting reforms including making it easier for voters to register, and early voting.

"We've made big strides in the Assembly," said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh. "Unfortunately the Senate has not put any of those bills on a committee agenda or moved them forward."

In addition, while Senate Republicans have not been very eager to work with Democrats to modernize voting procedures and protocols, some Assembly Democrats say neither was former Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who was ousted last year by a corruption scandal after having served as Speaker for two decades.

"Some of these bills would move under the old Speaker," Assemblyman Kavanagh said. "We did pass an early voting bill in the past. But I think the package that we passed in the Assembly this year really was unprecedented. "

In a statement a spokesman for Governor Cuomo said:

"For years, the Governor has advanced a series of reforms to New York's election system. We welcome the Mayor to this effort."

Senate Republicans had no comment on the voting bills, although it is widely understood that with a severe enrollment disadvantage in New York State the last thing Republicans want is more people voting.

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