Early Voting Plan Draws Mixed Reviews

Early Voting Plan Draws Mixed Reviews

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New York is one of 13 states where there isn't early voting. With voter turnout low, Governor Cuomo wants to give more people the chance to get to the polls.

Under the plan, in 2019, voters will have access to at least one polling site 12 days before Election Day.

But there are mixed opinions among those who run the elections. Some local elections commissioners say it would help get people to the polls.

"Looking at all of the other 37 states who do have early voting, it has seemed to increase their voter turnout," said St. Lawrence County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jennie Bacon.

But others say it may not help especially because many local races are unopposed.

"They'll take a look at their ballot and they'll say what actually means something to me and if there's nothing there, they think their vote will make a difference. They'll just stay home and it doesn't matter if you give them 12 or 13 days to vote. It's still the same ballot," said Jefferson County Republican Elections Commissioner Jude Seymour.

Then there's a cost. Governor Cuomo set aside about $7 million in his budget to offer early voting. But that's for every county in the state.

In Jefferson County, it's estimated it will cost an additional $17,000 to do early voting in 2019 and then $40,000 in 2020.

"It's not going to be a cost free proposal. That's why I'm encouraged that the governor at least understands that. I think that $6.4 million is too little. But you got to start somewhere," said Seymour.

Also under the proposal, counties must have one early voting poll site for every 50,000 residents. In Jefferson County, that means only one polling place. But in St. Lawrence County, commissioners estimate early voting would require 2 or 3 polling places.

The Republican elections commissioner in St. Lawrence County, Thomas Nichols, is against the whole idea. He thinks it isn't necessary.

"We've had early voting for well over 50 years. It's called absentee voting and right now people can apply for and receive their absentee ballot at least 5 weeks in advance of the election," he said.

For now, this is just a proposal. It will have to pass in the legislature before we would see early voting and there's no guarantee that would happen.

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