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Antonacci splits from GOP, supports some election reform bills in NY Senate

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Mannion Antonacci Forum 4.JPG

State Sen. Bob Antonacci, a Republican, speaks during a town hall meeting in October at the Boyle Center in Auburn.

The seven-bill election reform package advanced by Democrats in the state Legislature Monday received support from some Republicans, including freshman state Sen. Bob Antonacci. 

Antonacci, a Republican who represents parts of Cayuga and Onondaga counties, voted for four of the seven measures. He supported legislation to close the LLC loophole, a controversial campaign finance provision that allows wealthy donors to circumvent donation limits. He also backed a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting. 

Other bills supported by Antonacci: A measure to amend the state constitution to allow for same-day voter registration and legislation that would allow voters to transfer their registration if they move to another county within New York. 

In an interview with The Citizen Friday, Antonacci said he supports closing the LLC loophole — a position he's held since the campaign for the 50th Senate District seat — and allowing no-excuse absentee voting. 

However, he questioned the timing of the votes. He wasn't given the bills until Thursday night — a few days before the state Senate considered the package. 

"That's just silly," he said by phone. "I would hope that we would not run our government that way." 

Antonacci didn't side with Democrats on every election reform bill. The most notable change is legislation to make New York the 38th state to allow early voting. The bill would create a nine-day early voting period that would end the Sunday before Election Day. 

The bill passed 48-13 in the state Senate. Antonacci joined 12 other GOP colleagues who voted against the measure. He has raised concerns about early voting before, such as the implementation costs and whether it would achieve its intended goal of increasing turnout. 

Antonacci also opposed a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to consolidate the federal, state and local primaries. The federal primary election and the state and local primary election have fallen on different dates in the past. Last year, the elections were held in late June and mid-September, respectively. 

The bill sponsored by Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County Democrat, would consolidate the primaries. The primary election would be held on the fourth Tuesday in June. 

Another measure that Antonacci opposed would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. Under the legislation, the teens would be automatically registered to vote on their 18th birthday if they preregister. 

The legislation passed by a 47-14 vote in the state Senate. Antonacci was one of 14 Republicans who opposed the bill. 

The state Assembly also approved the bills Monday. It will now head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his review. Cuomo has been a proponent of the bills and said late last year that he wants achieve election reform within the first 100 days of the legislative session. 


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