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New York’s election system is about to get an upgrade

Voting in the Empire State is notoriously hard. Some fixes are finally about to pass the state legislature.

The New York state legislature is poised to pass a suite of bills Monday that could finally overhaul the state's antiquated election system. (PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The New York state legislature is poised to pass a suite of bills Monday that could finally overhaul the state's antiquated election system. (PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

New York’s election system is broken. On Election Day 2018, voting machines in New York City crashed, and voters around the state were forced to wait in line for hours. Many longtime voters finally got to the front of those lines only to find out the state didn’t think they were registered.

The Empire State has no early voting, no same-day voter registration, closed primaries, and registration deadlines months before elections. It’s the only state in the country that holds its state and federal primaries on different days.

Finally, some of that could start to change Monday, as the New York state legislature is poised to pass a suite of bills today that could finally overhaul the state’s antiquated election system, including establishing an early voting period, holding state and federal primaries the same day, and allowing 16- and 17-year-old residents to “pre-register” to vote. (Thirteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register.)

The early voting period, as HuffPost reported Monday, would begin 10 days before an election and end two days before it. It would have to include two full weekends. As the Post also reported, the legislation would require local election boards to establish one early voting site for every 50,000 voters in their jurisdiction and take effect for the 2019 general election.

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Additionally, while New York voters are currently required to update their registration if they move to a different county, lawmakers are set to pass legislation that would automatically update people’s voter registration when the state receives the information that someone has moved. Democrats also plan to pass legislation that would begin to close a loophole allowing corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to candidates.

Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), told HuffPost the governor supports the batch of legislation and will sign it into law.

“We’re very excited the legislature is going to pass these very important reforms that are part of the governor’s 100-day agenda, and we look forward to working with them to do more to pass public campaign financing, to make Election Day a holiday and to ban corporate contributions once and for all,” Azzopardi said.

In addition to the current batch of election legislation, Democrats in the state legislature also support same-day voter registration in the state and allowing people to cast absentee ballots without supplying an excuse. (Most states do not require that people provide an excuse when requesting an absentee ballot.) But those two changes would require constitutional amendments, meaning they need to pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and then be approved by voters.