It's the most significant election reform achieved this year, and it will give New Yorkers more time to vote.
In January, New York became the 38th state to allow early voting. The Democratic-led state Legislature passed the bill as part of a voting reform package. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law one week later.
Here is what you should know about early voting in Cayuga County:
What is early voting?
As the name suggests, it's a period before Election Day that allows voters to cast ballots early. The early voting schedule varies from state to state, but the idea is to give people more time to vote.
When will early voting occur in New York?
New York's law authorizes a nine-day early voting period before elections. Early voting will begin this year before the general election in November.
The law states that early voting in New York will begin 10 days before the election and end two days before Election Day. That means early voting will commence on a Saturday and conclude on a Sunday.
For this year's election, early voting begins Saturday, Oct. 26 and ends Sunday, Nov. 3. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
What time do the polls open during early voting?
The law requires counties to have early voting sites open for at least eight hours during the week and five hours on weekend days. Counties must have late hours at early voting poll sites at least twice during the traditional work week.
Here is the schedule for early voting in Cayuga County:
• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 2
• Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Nov. 3
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 30
• Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, and Thursday, Oct. 31
• 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1
Where are Cayuga County's early voting locations?
Counties are required to have at least one early voting poll site for every 50,000 registered voters. As of Feb. 1, Cayuga County had 49,324 registered voters, which means it must have a minimum of one early voting location.
Cherl Heary and Katie Lacey, Cayuga County's election commissioners, decided to have three locations for early voting due to the county's geography.
Cayuga County's early voting locations are:
• Auburn: Clifford Park Clubhouse on Mary Street
• Northern Cayuga County: Conquest Town Hall, 1289 Fuller Road
• Southern Cayuga County: Venice Town Hall, 2479 State Route 34
Will early voting change the traditional poll sites on Election Day?
No. The polling locations that have been in place for past elections won't change. If you don't wish to cast an early ballot, you can go to your regular polling location to vote on Election Day.
How will the county administer early voting?
The voting machines remain the same, but there will be changes to how voters sign in. Instead of a paper poll book that contains voter registration information, inspectors will use an electronic poll book. The electronic poll book, or e-poll book, is a digital version of the voter rolls. Workers will now be able to search a voter's name using a laptop or tablet instead of sifting through a large paper poll book. Once the name is found, the voter signs their name on an electronic pad linked to the poll book.
Electronic poll books will replace the paper poll books for early voting and on Election Day.
For early voting, once a voter signs an on-demand ballot printer will be used to print their ballot. The on-demand printers help election boards avoid having to pre-print ballots that may go to waste. While a small number of ballots will be printed in advance, the on-demand printers will be used to print the appropriate ballot based on a voter's election district.
After the voter signs in and has their ballot printed, the process remains the same. They fill out their ballot and then file it into one of the electronic voting machines.
How much will it cost to implement early voting?
Statewide, it will cost millions. The 2019-20 state budget includes more than $24 million to implement early voting. Cayuga County will receive more than $154,000 for early voting-related expenses and to purchase equipment, such as electronic poll books and on-demand ballot printers.
Will early voting occur before primary elections in 2020 and beyond?
Yes. Because the legislation was signed this year, early voting will only be in place for the general election. But beginning in 2020, there will be early voting before primary elections.
There will be nine days of early voting before the presidential primary in April 2020. And there will be a nine-day early voting period before the federal, state and local primary election on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.