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Gov. Hochul Signs Sen. Gianaris’ Voting Reform Bills Into Law

Early voting site (NYC BOE via Twitter)

Dec. 27, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Governor Kathy Hochul signed two bills into law last week that were sponsored by state Senator Michael Gianaris that aim to improve the voting system.

One bill requires absentee ballots to be counted by election night, while the other requires the state to increase the number of early voting sites in each county.

The latter aims to cut down the amount of time candidates and the public have to wait to know the results of elections — as more and more races have been called based on absentee votes during the pandemic.

For instance, many election results in the city were delayed this year because the New York City Board of Election only releases the tally of in-person votes — without absentees counted — on election night. In tight races, voters waited weeks until the final count was released and a winner could be determined.

Gianaris’s legislation would require local boards of election to count the absentee ballots as they come in, so the full — albeit unofficial — count is released on election night. It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

“To increase faith in our democracy, people should be able to vote more easily and know election results in a timely manner,” Gianaris said in a statement. “That includes ensuring voters do not wait on lengthy lines to vote early, and requiring absentee ballots to be counted more expeditiously.”

His other bill requires local boards to open at least one early voting place for every 30,000 registered voters in each county. It would nearly double the number of early voting sites across the state and expand hours at each site.

The line of people waiting to vote at York College on the first day of Early Voting in October 2020 (Former Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee via Twitter)

The bill aims to cut back on lines outside early voting sites like those many voters experienced ahead of the November 2020 election. The legislation goes into effect on April 1, 2022.

Gianaris thanked Hochul for signing both bills into law.

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