This area’s Republicans split their votes on a package of voting reform measures approved this week, including changing the date of the federal primary and allowing transfer of voter registration among counties.
Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, voted against bills to allow for pre-registering voters at least 16 years of age and require local school boards to promote student voter registration and pre-registration in high schools, and to automatically transfer a voter’s registration when they move within New York state.
Spokesman Michael Barse said in an email that Stec supported amendments that the Assembly Minority Conference proposed to these bills to improve voting procedures and save taxpayer money but they did not pass. These proposed changes included requiring the state to pay for any costs associated with implementing early voting, moving the date of the state primary and allowing New Yorkers to cast an early vote by absentee ballot rather than implementing an in-person early voting, which he said would present logistical challenges for local boards of election.
Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, also voted against pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.
“This seems totally unnecessary. I would instead support an online public awareness campaign utilizing social media,” she said in a news release.
Little, however, voted in favor of allowing voter registration to be transferred between counties, but expressed concern about it being another unfunded mandate.
“We also need to look at the regulation that would follow enactment of the law to assure we don’t see an opportunity for voting fraud,” she said.
Stec and Little voted in favor of a bill that would require disclosure of all direct and indirect owners of limited liability corporations set up for the expressed purpose of making donations and state that all contributions be attributed to each member of the LLC in proportion to their ownership interest.
Stec also supported moving the state primary to coincide with the federal one in June. Little voted against that bill. She said she wanted the primary election to be consolidated to August. With a June primary, the process of gathering petitions would start in February or March.
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“This will create a challenge in upstate communities that still can expect a lot of snow and cold temperatures this time of year. The main proponents of this change are from downstate and New York City where the process of garnering signatures will be a lot easier,” Little said in a statement.
Little also voted in opposition to removing the requirement that voters be registered at least 10 days before an election
“I think this opens the door to well-funded political operations mobilizing voters to change their registration just for the sake of undermining primary elections,” she said.
Also, same-day registration would create a burden for county boards of elections, and more technology is needed, according to Little.
“County boards are already very busy on Election Day and would have a very big challenge registering people to vote on Election Day,” she said. “And I don’t see how this is possible without first requiring voters present some form of identification for ballot security.”
Little, however, has been a proponent of early voting, and voted in favor of that bill.
“I think this is a very reasonable, accommodating step to increase voter turnout however I am disappointed the Democrats have not provided an assurance counties will be reimbursed for implementing this,” she said.
Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, voted in favor of all of the election reform measures. Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, voted against all of them.