Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation clarifying the process for appointing poll watchers in any general, primary, special, village or town election (S.3141-A/A.1525-A) and ensuring poll locations are adequately staffed based on the individual needs of a polling location (S.3146/A.1454).
"Transparent elections are crucial to ensuring voters have their voices heard." Governor Cuomo said. "By signing these measures into law, we modernize our elections, bringing efficiency and common sense to a process that has been unnecessarily ambiguous for far too long."
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, New York State is providing greater insight and clearer authority for appointing poll watchers, which has historically been a convoluted and contentious process.
S.3146/A.1454 Ensuring Poll Locations are Adequately Staffed
This measure allows a board of elections to design an alternative poll site staffing plan based on the individual needs of a polling location. Currently, many staffing plans are determined and structured based on when voting was conducted on lever voting machines. However, over time the organization and voting methods of poll sites have changed significantly. By allowing boards of elections to determine the staffing plan based on actual demand and BOE regulation, and not statutory requirements, New Yorkers will see increased efficiency at individual polling locations.
Senator Zellnor Myrie said, "Voters need to be able to trust that every vote will be counted and their democracy functions with integrity. Poll watchers play an integral role in our democracy, and we must empower them to do their job. In a state as large and diverse as New York, there is no reason to use a one size fits all approach to running our poll sites. I am proud to support our Boards of Elections and ensure that the experience of all New Yorkers participating in our democracy is convenient, efficient, and secure."
Assemblymember David Buchwald said, "These bills will help modernize our election laws in New York State and are part of a wave of measures that bring New York State's voting laws into the 21st Century. By providing clarity on how poll watchers are selected and flexibility to Boards of Elections as to how poll workers are assigned to polling places, our election procedures will be more efficient and able to address the vast variations of polling sites, including early voting locations. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing these two measures into law."
On January 24, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed a comprehensive package of reforms to modernize New York's voting laws, including synchronizing federal and state elections to ensure that voters only go to the polls once to choose their nominees; allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote; and enacting universal transfer of voter registrations. These historic new laws were a key component of the Governor's 2019 Justice Agenda and were signed within the first 100 days of the 2019 legislative session.