Five election reform bills signed into law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law five “common sense” election reform bills introduced in the Legislature this year by Chair of the Elections Committee, Brooklyn Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie.

Myrie, who represents the 20th Senatorial District, said the bills “make several changes to improve the efficiency, security, and clarity of elections in New York State.”

“When we began this historic year for election reforms with closing the LLC loophole and Early Voting, we knew our work was far from complete,” he said. “With these reforms, we’ve made common sense changes like making it easier to monitor campaign contributions, empowering poll watchers to do their job, and clearing the way for more efficient poll site staffing.

“Voters need to trust that every vote will be counted and their democracy functions with integrity, and that’s what these reforms are about,” Myrie added.

The bills that were signed into law are: S3145-A – to better inform voters as to important ballot questions when a ballot is two sided.

This bill amends section 7-110 of the election law to provide clear instructions to voters if the ballot is two-sided, Myrie said.

“It is almost always necessary to place ballot questions on the side of the ballot opposite the side of the ballot where candidates appear,” he said. “This bill ensures voters are appropriately informed when their ballot is a two-sided ballot.”

S.3140/A.111: Requires Local Boards of Elections to Publish Campaign Contribution Limits.

Under current law, the total number of registered voters in a district determines local contribution limits, leading to varying limits from year to year, Myrie said.

Additionally, he said there is currently no requirement for boards of elections to publish these limits.

This bill amends election law requiring local boards of elections to publish campaign contribution limits, “which will increase transparency and awareness for voters within a local district,” Myrie said.

S.3903/A.1641A: reducing confusion and simplifying filing requirements by mandating all candidates and committees to electronically file their campaign finance information with the New York State Board of Elections.

Myrie said this bill removes the $1,000 fundraising minimum for campaigns to file with the State Board of Elections, easing the reporting process by having each campaign report its finances to one location.

“Centralizing the reporting process will reduce the workloads of City and County Boards of Elections, clarify whether campaigns have met filing requirements, and improve transparency for the public,” he said.

S.3141-A/A.1525: Clarifying the Process for Appointing Poll Watchers.

This measure clarifies the process for appointing poll watchers in any general, primary, special, village or town election, allowing candidates on the ballot and political committees three watchers for each election district and only one within the guardrail at any time.

By amending this law, the senator said New York State is providing “greater insight and clearer authority for appointing poll watchers, which has historically been a convoluted and contentious process.”

.3146/A.1454: Ensuring Poll Locations are Adequately Staffed.

This measure allows boards of elections to design alternative poll site staffing plans based on the individual needs of polling locations.

Currently, many staffing plans are determined and structured based on when voting was conducted on lever voting machines, Myrie said.

“However, over time, the organization and voting methods of poll sites have changed significantly,” he said. By allowing boards of elections to determine the staffing plan based on actual demand and not statutory requirements, New Yorkers will see increased efficiency at individual polling locations.”