Making it easier for people to vote in New York has been an overlooked issue in Albany for far too long, so we are pleased that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken up the call for some changes — but the state will need to put some money in the budget to pay for it.
Cuomo's latest executive budget includes a proposal that polls be open 12 days prior to Election Day and also allows people to register to vote at the last minute. And the budget says it will cost counties $6.4 million in funding to make it happen.
New York is one of just 13 states that don't offer early voting, and restrictive registration rules have been noted as a big reason that the state is regularly near the bottom of the list when it comes to voter turnout.
The state should be doing everything it can to make it easier for people to vote, so this plan must not get lost in the shuffle of the myriad items lawmakers will be debating in the coming months.
The tricky part will be in making sure that the state fully funds elections boards for the new expenses that will come with additional days of polls being open. Early voting would be a great step forward for New York, but it must not become another unfunded mandate that further burdens county governments.
Lawmakers now need to look into this proposal and get some feedback from local elections boards regarding anticipated costs. New Yorkers — and their representatives in Albany — largely agree that early voting is the way to go. But ensuring adequate funding for implementation is going to key to making it a reality.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.