Assemblymember Karen McMahon (D-Amherst/Pendleton) announced that she helped pass sweeping legislation to overhaul New Yorks outdated and restrictive election system as one of her first acts in office. The bills modernize the voting process in New York State and make it easier and more convenient for New Yorkers to get out and vote.
As a first-time candidate, I saw for myself how outdated election laws can create barriers for both candidates and voters, said McMahon. I ran for office because I believe that our state government needs to be more open, honest and transparent. These reforms will put power back in the hands of New Yorkers.
One of the measures McMahon was most eager to pass closes the LLC loophole, which allows individuals and corporations to donate virtually unlimited amounts of money to candidates and political parties through limited liability companies (LLCs) (A.776). The legislation would extend the $5,000 donation limit that already applies to corporations to LLCs and require LLCs to disclose the names of individuals with membership interests. Closing this loophole will go a long way in lessening the influence of special interests in elections, putting the voters back in the drivers seat, noted McMahon.
The legislative package also addresses barriers to voting. In an effort to make voting more accessible, the Assembly passed legislation establishing early voting in the state (A.780). For a nine-day period before any general, primary, or special election, polling locations would be open for eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends and holidays, with at least two days offering evening voting hours.
For many New Yorkers balancing work and home life, finding the time to make it to the polls on a single day during certain hours can prove to be nearly impossible, said McMahon. By offering early voting, were providing hardworking Western New Yorkers a chance to get out and vote at their convenience.
The Assembly also passed legislation to adopt no-excuse absentee ballots (A.778). Under current law, residents can only receive absentee ballots if they expect to be absent from the county on the day of the election or have an illness or physical disability. If approved by voters, the measure would allow any voter to receive a mail-in absentee ballot upon request no questions asked.
Among the other measures to modernize New Yorks voting process are bills to establish same-day voter registration (A.777), automatically transfer voter enrollment when a voter moves to a new county (A.775), combine state and federal primary dates (A.779) and pre-register 16- and 17-year-olds to vote (A.774).
For too long, New York has had some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country this is simply not who we are as a state, said McMahon. Its time we make sure that every New Yorker has a fair chance to make their voice heard.