Election Day may not be until Nov. 5, but voters can start casting their ballots Saturday at 25 different polling places on Long Island when New York State’s new early voting law kicks in.
For the first time, LI’s registered voters will be able to hit the polls for nine days — including weekends — ahead of Election Day at one of 15 polling sites in Nassau County and 10 in Suffolk. Voters may cast their ballots at any one of the polls in their home county during the early-voting period — a rule designed to make participating in elections as easy as possible.
“The point of this is to make sure that everybody exercises their right to vote,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Thursday during a news conference outside her Mineola office. “We’re not here to tell you who to vote for or how to vote, but we do want to encourage everyone to vote so we keep this precious democracy of ours strong and vibrant.”
The Empire State became one of 39 nationwide, plus the District of Columbia, that allow voters to cast ballots before Election Day, when state lawmakers in Albany enacted the measure as a part of an election reform package in January. Security measures are in place to ensure voters don’t try to vote more than once, officials said.
“Early voting is just one of the many steps we’ve taken to break down barriers to democracy, and I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of this opportunity to skip the lines on Election Day and ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The goal is to increase voter turnout. Historically, only 49 percent of New Yorkers who are registered to vote do so. The state ranks 41 out of 50 nationwide for voter participation. Studies have shown that early voting increases turnout between two and four percent.
“This will enable us to ensure the hardworking residents … have more than one day to exercise that right and hopefully increase those statistics,” said state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck).