Board of Elections website

Screenshot of the state Board of Elections website homepage as seen on an iPhone.

State government, particularly the legislative process, can sometimes be maddeningly slow. The lack of mobile-friendly state agency websites is a great example of this fact.

In the business world, the push to make internet sites easily readable and functional on small screen devices took place several years ago. It was simply a matter of basic customer service and survival. The number of consumers who use smartphones as their primary information source has grown rapidly, and in the case of many websites, blown past the number of desktop users.

Governments, which tend to be more methodical about most things, have been much slower to catch on. But the speed at which New York state is moving has become unacceptable.

We'd like to think that's one reason why a bill to mandate that all state websites become mobile-friendly by the start of 2019 was approved 62-0 in the Senate and 141-1 in the Assembly earlier this year.

Despite the nearly unanimous support from legislators who represent New York residents, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week vetoed the measure. He said such an ambitious mandate needs to have funding secured as part of the budget process. And he also said his IT experts are already working on a plan to get mobile sites done — by 2022.

The funding issue is one the governor frequently employs with his vetoes, as his goal is to get virtually all important measures done through that heavily secretive budget process in which he and the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader hold all the power.

But even if his argument has some level of conceptual merit, it's beyond reasonable to demand that the state needs four more years to get this upgrade done. The governor has promised and pushed for far more ambitious and expensive initiatives throughout his tenure.

There's also the glaring reality that the state is already way behind. In fact, this bill is not the first time the goal has been put into proposed legislation. A 2015 bill envisioned mobile-friendly sites by the start of 2017.

The veto of the 2017 bill has most likely killed the 2019 goal at this point, but we urge legislators and the governor not to be satisfied with a 2022 deadline, either. Get together early in the next session to come up with a plan to fund and implement this most-basic technological step forward.

The Citizen Editorial Board includes publisher Rob Forcey, managing editor Mike Dowd and executive editor Jeremy Boyer.