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Assembly passes early voting in NY State, Senate says no

We’re a small step closer to voting early here in New York, like many other states in the country. The Assembly this week passed a bill calling for voting two weeks before Election Day at less than five polling places. The Senate, however, is not expected to act on the bill.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- We’re a small step closer to voting early here in New York, like many other states in the country. The Assembly this week passed a bill calling for voting two weeks before Election Day at less than five polling places. The Senate, however, is not expected to act on the bill.

Early voting is usually sold as a way to increase turnout. Onondaga County had nearly 75 percent of eligible voters last fall, but in a non-presidential year like this – 30 percent is more likely to vote.

"In some places its somewhat increases turnout, or in some elections, in other places it hasn't made much difference so I don't think it's a slam dunk that it increases turnout,” Political Science Professor at SU’s Maxwell School Kristi Anderson told NewsChannel 9.

The Assembly’s plan on opening up at least five polling places two weeks before an election could cause some issues for county election boards – like the cost. In Onondaga County it could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggins Walsh.

"Each ballot is unique to its election district, so now, if you've got five sites you're talking almost a hundred ballots per site, if you can even split it up that much. You need more than just two poll workers to do that, you're talking a lot of poll workers,” Kiggins Walsh told NewsChannel 9.

Excuse free absentee voting may be the way to go. In NYS right now, though you have to acknowledge one of the set reasons you can't physically be at your polling place on Election Day in order to get yourself an absentee ballot.

"Absentee ballots are set aside. They are not touched until at least a week after the election, so we know if you voted in person we can yank your absentee," Kiggins Walsh continued. "If you vote early, your ballot is mixed in with all the other ballots, it’s already gone through the scanner, but absentee, you can always change your mind at the last minute."

"It’s inconvenient for people and that's why we're having early voting fine, make voting on Saturday or Sunday,” Anderson said.

The Association of NYS Election Commissioners has been pushing, with bipartisan support, for excuse free absentee balloting for nearly a decade, but hasn’t been able to get it passed in the legislature.
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