Piper Perabo + Experts Push for $$$ for Early Voting in NYS Budget

Break down why Cuomo's cost savings is insufficient

NEW YORK, NY (01/31/2019) (readMedia)-- A week after Governor Cuomo signed early voting into law, actor and activist Piper Perabo and experts from across the country joined together to breakdown why Governor Cuomo needs to fully fund early voting in his budget.

LISTEN to the call here (note: recoridng starts around 3:30 mark).

Early voting will allow citizens to cast their ballots in person ten days before an election. On January 14th, the Legislature passed early voting, making New York the 38th state in the nation to have it.

Although Governor Cuomo included an early voting proposal in his budget bills for 2019-20, he has not yet included a funding stream to cover the associated costs. Instead the Governor suggests that the future consolidation of primaries (which does not go into effect until 2020) will produce a cost savings, but that would not replace a dedicated funding stream. Right now, early voting is an unfunded mandate for counties to pay.

The Democratic Caucus of the New York State Elections Commissioner Association surveyed local Elections Commissioners to estimate the costs of early voting in upstate New York counties. The survey estimates at least $22.75 million is needed to implement early voting in 2019 upstate. The $22.75 million includes roughly $2.75 million for early voting operations upstate and a one-time outlay of $15-20 million for capital improvements such as electronic poll books, digital versions of the current paper-based voter rolls, during early voting periods and on Election Day. Looking ahead, the state will need to allocate at least 2.75 million per election each year. New York City costs could equal or exceed the rest of the state combined.

Last year, Governor Cuomo included $7 million in the 2018-19 executive budget to fund early voting before it was even a law. It was not included in the final budget.

"New York State will have early voting in name only without a dedicated funding stream," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "Governor Cuomo must fund both early voting and electronic poll books if he actually wants to see this much needed reform succeed."

"In Colorado, just over 90% of our eligible voters are registered to vote, and in 2018, we had 63% turnout of eligible voters, which was the second highest in the nation. We see this success in Colorado because we have invested in an election model that provides opportunities for voters when they need them, while at the same time maintaining security and efficiencies for our election administrators. Automatic, online and same day voter registration along with a combination of mail ballots and early voting have all helped Colorado meet such high goals," said Jenny Flanagan, Deputy Secretary of State in Colorado.

"NY State leaders should be applauded for the dramatic reforms they have initiated to our electoral landscape. The budget should reflect the need to invest in our Democracy by funding these reforms and easing the burden on the Counties that host our Boards of Elections. Funding for initial capital and ongoing expenses is necessary for New York to be a true leader in Electoral Reform," said Dustin Czarny, Onondaga County Elections Commissioner and member of NYS Elections Commissioner Association Democratic Caucus.

"I am so excited that early voting is on its way to New York and that's thanks to Let NY Vote coalition," said actor and activist Piper Perabo. "We need Governor Cuomo to put his money where his mouth is and put funding for early voting and electronic poll books in the budget this year."


The Let NY Vote Coalition is a statewide network of over 100 member organizations ranging from 32BJ, to NAACP New York to New York State Indivisible. Full coalition list here.

The Let NY Vote coalition has been demanding common sense voting reform in New York for years such as:

  • Early Voting: in place in 37 other states, allowing citizens to cast ballots in person days, sometimes weeks, before an election.
  • Pre-registration of 16 and 17-year-olds: 13 states plus DC allow for pre-registration for voting at 16 and 17 years old. Pre-registration increases the likelihood of voter participation among young adults. Engaging potential voters at a young age and bringing them into the voting process early helps create lifelong voters.
  • Consolidation of Primary Dates: Currently New York has two primary days in June and September, confusing voters. New York is the only state with two primaries.
  • Vote by mail: No eligible voter should have to provide a reason to be able to vote absentee.
  • Same day registration: 18 states and DC have Same Day Registration. Same Day Registration enables voters to register and vote at the same time and increases voter turnout.
  • Universal transfer of voter registration: If a voter moves anywhere within New York State, their registration address will be automatically updated, and if not, he or she will be able to vote by affidavit ballot.