Counties want state to fund extra costs with voting initiatives
The New York State Association of Counties is responding to a proposal on Monday from the governor to expand voting access, including more hours at the polls in Upstate New York.
This is a statement from Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC):
“Outside of New York City, election costs are the mandated responsibility of county governments through local boards of elections. The operational budgets for these local boards have been enacted at the close of 2018. Additional costs associated with staffing and securing early voting locations, printing and counting additional ballots, ensuring elections are safe from cyber security threats, and meeting other legal election requirements have not been fully calculated by the state and counties. Estimates for these new provisions suggest that it could cost between $500,000 to $1 million per county outside of New York City, depending on its size. Under a two percent property tax cap, counties cannot afford additional new costs associated with early voting and other election reforms.
“Combining the state and federal primaries will not provide counties outside New York City with enough savings to offset the cost of early voting.
“NYSAC requests that the State work with local boards of elections to enumerate the full fiscal impact of early voting and ensure proper funding is appropriated to cover the costs before any statutory provisions are put in place. On behalf of the counties outside New York City, we call on Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Legislators to include funding in the 2019-20 State Budget to cover the cost of implementing early voting, otherwise it will be one more unfunded state mandated cost on local property taxpayers.”
State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, issued this statement: “Increasing the ability of American citizens to participate in our electoral process is an important task that should be supported by all.
“However, with increased access to voting comes the danger of fraud and abuse within our democracy. Many of the laws passed today have been hastily thrown together in the name of ‘progress’ and ignore the safeguards we vitally need to ensure the integrity of our elections. Expanding access to the polls without addressing safety protocols to protect the integrity of our electoral process is a disservice to the voters of our state.”
State Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, is the ranking member of the Assembly’s Election Law Committee. He issued this statement:
“It is crucial that every citizen who wants to be a registered voter has the opportunity to participate in our electoral process. I am proud to have voted today to support that goal by removing barriers that prevented voters from obtaining absentee ballots. Once approved as a constitutional amendment any registered voter would be able to obtain a ‘no excuse needed’ absentee ballot, allowing many more New Yorkers to vote with greater convenience. This is a common-sense measure to reduce costs, increase participation and maintain the sanctity of our elections.”
“I voted to further clean up and reform Albany by closing the LLC loophole, a measure that has allowed outside influences to control our state Capitol for too long. I was also proud to stand up for overtaxed citizens by voting to consolidate primary elections in our state. Having more than one primary date is not only confusing to the public, but also extremely costly to local governments and disruptive to the regular business of New Yorkers who want to vote as well as the locations serving as polling places. This was an unfunded mandate that I am happy to vote to lift and also will streamline and simplify voting.”