On the first day of the 2019 legislative session, the New York State Legislature approved a seven-bill legislative package to change election policies.
The legislative package included two constitutional amendments. In New York, constitutional amendments require a simple majority vote of two successive state legislatures. The current 203rd New York State Legislature (2019-2020) passed the constitutional amendments, and the next 204th State Legislature (2021-2022) needs to approve them again to refer them to the ballot for voter consideration in 2021 or 2022.
Together, the constitutional amendments would authorize the legislature to pass statutes for no-excuse absentee voting and same-day voter registration. The governor’s signature is not required for amendments.
The five statutory bills would enact the following changes:
- create a voter pre-registration process for 16- and 17-year olds,
- require the state Board of Elections to transfer a voter’s registration to wherever the voter moves within New York State,
- restrict campaign contributions from LLCs to $5,000 and require ownership of the LLC to be disclosed in campaign finance reports,
- combine the federal non-presidential primary and state primary elections to a single date in June, and
- establish a nine-day early-voting period, including two weekends, before general, primary, and special elections.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), following the votes, tweeted that he would “sign these reforms into law…”
The legislative package comes after Democrats gained trifecta control of the state government at the 2018 general election. Except for a period of Democratic control in 2009 and 2010, New York had a divided government since 1975. Before the election on November 6, 2018, Democrats controlled the state Assembly, but not the state Senate due to a coalition between Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference. In 2018, Democrats won 40 seats in the 63-seat Senate.