Your editorial, “Fix early voting funding fiasco” that ran August 25 makes the assessment that we in government should be working together, and I hope that the State Board of Elections takes notice. A simple call for clarification would have fixed this. Instead, the Board of Elections heard only what it wanted, and called their local counterparts telling them we were making a cut to a $10 million appropriation to support early voting, when in fact we had just approved an initial portion. Rest assured, the full $10 million will be available.
Despite the incorrect assertion in your editorial that the Governor controls the Board of Elections, it actually operates independently with leadership selected from both political parties, but that doesn’t give it license to unnecessarily spread fear. The Board took the good news that the Division of the Budget had approved more than $2 million in State funds to offset and reimburse operating costs of early voting poll stations and turned it into alarm over a cut in funding that was never true.
The facts here are simple. When the Legislature voted for the $10 million in funding for early polling stations, it required that the Division of the Budget approve the plan for how the funds would be shared among the counties.
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The early voting law established parameters for early voting sites, including the minimum and maximum number required, and that the remainder be distributed based on enrollment. We agreed with the Board’s proposal to provide $15,000 per required site and are reviewing its plan to distribute the remainder.
It is my obligation to ensure that the remainder of the funding is distributed equitably across the State to large and small counties. Every voter deserves equal access. Given the way the Board of Elections has handled this process so far, I think you would agree that taking the review and approval process seriously is the right thing to do. The $10 million will be available for equitable allocation in the next week.
Robert F. Mujica Jr.
Mujica is New York State Budget Director