New York Daily News City Council to review legislation allowing New Yorkers to vote early in municipal elections by Erin Durkin
New Yorkers would be able to cast ballots in municipal elections early — really early — under legislation that is set to be introduced before the City Council on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), would open select polling places for two weeks leading up to election day for elections for mayor, council and other city offices but not for state or federal elections. The bill would apply to both primaries and the general election.
The city would have to open at least 51 polling sites — one in each City Council district — from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each weekday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, until the Friday before the election.
“New Yorkers should be able to vote when it is convenient for them, not when it is convenient for elected officials,” Kallos said.
Some 33 states plus Washington, D.C., already offer early voting, but New York has never done so, Kallos said. As a result, the councilman added, New York ranked 46th in voter turnout in the last election, according to the United States Elections Project Study. Kallos’ bill does not address funding to open polling places early.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed allowing early voting statewide in a 2010 report on how to boost voter access, but it never became reality.
Kallos said he hopes that if the bill passes in the City Council, the state will follow suit.
“The city has power over local elections, and my hope is that the city’s leadership on this will have an impact on the state,” he said.