Kathy Welsh

Kathy Welsh

CHESTER – Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) announced he is working to help pass a legislative package to make voting in New York State easier and more convenient.

“We must reform and upgrade our antiquated voting system in New York to make sure everyone has the opportunity to exercise this fundamental right,” Skoufis said. “New Yorkers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to cast their vote. A vital part of democracy is making sure everyone has a fair chance to make their voice heard.”

The Assembly’s legislative package includes a measure Skoufis co-sponsored to consolidate state and federal primary election dates to a single day in June (A.3052). The measure would give military personnel stationed overseas more time to mail their ballots in and would save taxpayers and the state an estimated $25 million a year. Skoufis has encouraged Assembly and Senate stakeholders – the Senate prefers a later consolidated date – to find a compromise on this issue.

The savings accomplished from the above consolidation would help fund early voting, which another measure included in the package would establish during the seven-day period prior to an election (A.2064). Polls would be required to stay open for eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends and holidays, and offer evening hours on at least two days.

The Assembly also plans on passing a measure that Skoufis co-sponsored to require boards of elections to automatically transfer voter enrollment for New Yorkers when they move from one county to another (A.3411).

“Streamlining the voter registration process is by far one of the best things we can do to increase voter participation and turnout,” Skoufis said. “The more people who are able to vote, the more representative our government can be.”

When it was brought to Skoufis’ attention that many residents of the Chester-based Whispering Hills development must travel to Goshen in order to vote – while other residents are allowed to vote locally right in the development – he successfully worked with the Orange County Board of Elections (BOE) and the state BOE to fix the disparity. The Whispering Hills Club is now the polling place for all residents.

Skoufis is supporting a number of other election reform measures, including legislation that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote (A.1070), which is currently being reviewed by the Election Law Committee.

“We need to encourage the younger generation to get involved in the political process as soon as possible and take a role in choosing their leaders and representatives,” Skoufis said. “When we make it clear that their voices matter, they’ll speak up.”

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