WASHINGTON, D.C. — Less than a week after gaveling into its legislative session, the New York Senate is already taking action to defend democracy, passing a slate of bills improving election administration and expanding voting rights.
The package of legislation, which passed the state Senate on Monday, would, among other changes:
- Permit the New York Board of Elections to begin the process of joining multistate voter list maintenance organizations, including the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC),
- Authorize local boards of elections to implement drop boxes in order for residents to return their mail-in ballots,
- Expand “line warming” activities for voters waiting in line or in a polling place, which include providing food and water of “nominal value,”
- Create the New York Voting and Elections Database and Institute to provide information about voting and elections,
- Allow local boards of elections to establish portable polling locations for early voting and
- Make deceptive practices that prevent or deter an individual from voting, or suppress or attempt to suppress the vote, a misdemeanor offense.
The bills, which Republicans in the Senate have spoken out against, now head to the state Assembly for consideration. Similar measures have previously stalled in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. Last fall, the New York Legislature passed a package of 10 bills expanding voting rights and protecting democracy, which Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law.