Just months after New York City offered early voting for the first time during a presidential election, voters could soon get more early voting options under a new City Council bill expected to be introduced Thursday.
The bill, which Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos, plans to introduce to the Council at a Thursday meeting, would increase the number of early voting sites, with expanded hours of operation and at least two sites required in each Council district initially for the upcoming June primary.
“This would add at least two early voting polling sites per Council district for the coming election and would eventually scale up to eight. It would also give voters more hours to vote,” Kallos told the Daily News. “During the last election, there were zero early voting sites in my Council district. To be fair, one was 500 feet outside my district, but we don’t have enough early voting sites.”
Kallos blamed the city Board of Elections and legislators in Albany and called state lawmakers “corrupt” for not passing a law mandating more early voting sites.
The current state law requires just seven sites per county, he pointed out.
“All these people go up to Albany and say they’re going to reform elections, and they don’t,” Kallos said. “I think it’s corrupt for an elected official to say one thing and do another when it benefits them to have fewer people vote.”
Under Kallos’ bill, the city would require the Board of Elections to run at least two polling sites per district in the 2021 primary and general election and would require four polling sites per district by 2023.
The Democratic-controlled state legislature approved early voting in 2019 shortly after wrestling control of the state Senate away from Republicans. Under the law, voters were given 10 days of early voting before elections.
Election reforms and ending voter disenfranchisement have been at the top of Dems’ priority list over the past two years.
This week, the Senate approved measures aimed at expanding absentee ballot access and lowering petition requirements for the 2021 elections.
Representatives for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
One Albany insider scoffed at Kallos’ comments after pointing to the early voting expansions and other measures taken by the legislature last year.