December 22, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Signs Voting Rights Legislation to Expand Access to the Ballot Box and Improve Voter Participation

Governor Hochul Signs Voting Rights Legislation to Expand Access to the Ballot Box and Improve Voter Participation

Legislation S3505-B/A4282-B Provides That Certain Local Elections Shall Be Held on Election Day in Even-Numbered Years

Alignment of More Elections in Even-Numbered Years Will Increase Voter Participation in Local Elections

Governor Announces Support for Future Constitutional Amendment to Align All Election Dates, Saving Taxpayer Funds for Municipalities by Reducing Election Administration Costs

Governor Hochul today signed legislation to expand access to the ballot box and make it easier for New Yorkers to vote in local elections that impact their lives. Legislation S3505-B/A4282-B updates the election calendar by aligning many local elections currently held in odd-numbered years with statewide and legislative elections that are held in even-numbered years.

"Every eligible New Yorker deserves the right to participate in the democratic process without unnecessary barriers,” Governor Hochul said. “By signing this legislation, we are taking a significant step towards expanding access to the ballot box and promoting a more inclusive democracy. This is a meaningful first step and I would support a constitutional amendment to align all election years, to save taxpayer dollars and avoid voter fatigue.”

Legislation S3505-B/A4282-B will move many county and town elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years. This legislation impacts all elections for which the dates can be changed through legislative action; changing election dates for certain offices, including judgeships and offices in any city in the State of New York, must be done through a constitutional amendment. Governor Hochul also announced her support for a future amendment to the New York State Constitution that would align elections for all offices – a fiscally responsible approach that would reduce the taxpayer cost of election administration by avoiding the need for elections to be held every single year.

By consolidating more elections in even-numbered years when most voters are already planning to participate in an election, this change will increase voter participation in important local races. Voter participation in elections held in even-numbered years in New York State is substantially higher than participation during odd-numbered years. For example, millions more New Yorkers participated in elections in 2020, when approximately 64 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots, than in 2021, when just 25 percent of eligible voters turned out to take part in local elections around the State.

When elections are held in odd-numbered years, away from the traditional election cycle that voters are most familiar with, the cost of participating in the democratic process is increased, particularly for voters who may have a difficult time arranging for time off of work and traveling to their polling site. Democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate, and this new law advances New York State toward that goal. Other states and jurisdictions around the country have made similar common-sense adjustments to their election calendars and have subsequently seen significant increases in voter participation in local elections.

Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said, “Ensuring access to the ballot box goes to the heart of enabling our democracy. This legislation will help to align elections, creating a more efficient and accessible process. New York is proud to be a leader in the advancement of voting rights.”

State Senator James Skoufis said, “It is our responsibility to foster an environment where a majority of voters actively engage in their local elections, selecting leaders that genuinely represent their needs. Syncing town and county elections is a win-win proposition which is why a Siena College survey found wide support for the move among all parties and all demographics. It will more than double turnout in local races, save taxpayer dollars, and begin to streamline the extremely unconsolidated patchwork of elections in the state. I sincerely thank Governor Hochul for thoughtfully cutting through the noise and standing up for democracy - signing this legislation is a transformative win for voter participation, equity, and representative government.”

Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, said, “As representatives of diverse communities within the state, the Caucus is dedicated to ensuring that every New Yorker has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and participate in democracy. By streamlining the election process and aligning it with a period of heightened civic activity, New York State aims to strengthen voter engagement and empower disadvantaged communities to select accountable representation at the local level. There is no doubt that this legislation is a positive win for the people, and I join my colleagues in commending Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this measure into law.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “I applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for signing legislation that shifts some local elections to even-numbered years. A number of counties already hold even-numbered year elections for County Executive and County Legislator, and this would standardize that across the board as well as serving as a positive result for County races in Westchester. We would see increased voter turnout and greater participation in these crucial races here and elsewhere throughout the state.”

Reinvent Albany Executive Director John Kaehny said, “Reinvent Albany thanks Governor Hochul for signing ‘even year elections’ into law, which will directly lead to more New Yorkers voting in local elections. We appreciate the governor forging ahead with this common sense measure and acting to strengthen New York's democracy in a practical and immediate way. Cheers to the sponsors Sen Skoufis and AM Paulin and the many advocates who made this happen.”

Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner said, “Moving local elections to even years will boost turnout, reduce voter fatigue, and minimize stressors on the local Boards of Elections. It’s a win for the voters, who will hear directly from local candidates about local issues. We are thrilled Governor Hochul signed this pro-voter reform in law.”

Citizens Union Executive Director Betsy Gotbaum said, “Citizens Union applauds Governor Kathy Hochul for signing into law legislation to move county and town elections to even-numbered years, and thanks State Senator James Skoufis and Assembly Member Amy Paulin for their leadership in getting this bill passed. This marks a momentous achievement in the ongoing effort to bolster civic participation in New York. Aligning local elections with high-profile races will lead to increased voter turnout, particularly among young people and people of color. This legislation is only the first step in creating an election calendar that serves voters and encourages participation, and lawmakers have committed to passing more comprehensive legislation through a constitutional amendment that moves local elections to even years across the entire state, including municipal elections in New York City.”

Brennan Center for Justice Senior Counsel in the Elections and Government Program Joanna Zdanys said, “The Brennan Center applauds New York State’s leaders for delivering this important legislation to move certain odd-year local elections to even years. We know from experience across the country that it will boost voter turnout, promote participation by a more representative electorate, and ensure that more eligible New Yorkers have a say in the decisions that affect their local communities. We urge our lawmakers to build on this moment by beginning the process to move all local elections – including city offices – to even years.”

New York Civil Liberties Union Director of Voting Rights Project Perry Grossman said, “Robust, equitable turnout is a sign of a healthy democracy. By making it easier for all New Yorkers to participate in local elections, this law will not only increase the legitimacy of our state’s elections, but bolster the accountability and responsiveness of our lawmakers. New Yorkers deserve representation that better reflects the will of the people.”

Hispanic Federation President and CEO Frankie Miranda, said, “Hispanic Federation applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Election Alignment bill into law. The new law simplifies the state’s complex voting system, which will encourage more New Yorkers to get involved in our democratic process. A strong democracy requires breaking unnecessary barriers to ensure that as many voters as possible cast their ballots in local, state, and national elections. This is especially true right now as voting rights for communities of color are under attack across the country. As leaders we must do everything in our power to continue breaking down barriers, protect our voting rights, and motivate our communities to have their voices heard.”

Legal Defense Fund Redistricting Counsel Michael Pernick said, “We commend Governor Hochul for her leadership in signing the Election Alignment Bill and Senator Skoufis for sponsoring this legislation. This landmark legislation will eliminate discriminatory off-cycle elections at the county and town level across the state, which exacerbate racial disparities in political participation and lead to underrepresentation of Black voters and other voters of color. This legislation will increase civic participation in local elections and end a barrier to representation that disproportionately harms Black voters and other voters of color.”

NALEO Educational Fund CEO Arturo Vargas said, “The Election Alignment Bill represents a critical opportunity to strengthen electoral participation for Latinos and other underrepresented groups. Our democracy is stronger when more people participate in the electoral process. We thank legislators and the governor for prioritizing this evidence-based legislation and look forward to more opportunities to increase voter turnout.”

Institute for Responsive Government Executive Director Sam Oliker-Friedland said, “We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this important bill. Moving local elections to even years is a common-sense step toward more representative elections and significant cost savings for election officials. This bill will bring more voters into the political process, including young voters and voters of color, and avoid extremely low turnout and unrepresentative results in local elections.”

Generation Vote Managing Director Brendan Cushing said, “Generation Vote proudly endorses NYS S3505B/A4282B, which will align certain local elections outside of New York City with even-numbered year elections. The current system of holding local elections in odd-numbered years leads to voter confusion and contributes to low voter turnout in local elections – particularly for young voters and students. As an intersectional youth-led movement that fights for our right to vote and a just democracy for all, GenVote applauds Governor Hochul for moving to sign this bill into law, which will ultimately allow for younger voters to be better represented in high-turnout, even-year elections.”

Citizen Action of New York Democracy Coalition Coordinator Karen Wharton said, “Voter turnout in New York in the off years has been abysmally low with an electorate that's older, whiter, and wealthier and not particularly reflective of our gorgeous mosaic of New Yorkers. The practice of off-year elections disenfranchises communities of color and young people. This reform will single-handedly increase voter turnout. So we applaud Gov Kathy Hochul and the NYS legislature for this most critical reform in our march from worst to first in the nation in democracy.”

LatinoJustice PRLDEF Senior Counsel Fulvia Vargas-De Leon said, “The signing of this legislation is yet another step towards moving voters in New York towards a truly inclusive democracy. This bill will eliminate much of the voter confusion and low turnout that plagues our local elections. We look forward to seeing the impact of this law on the Latino community's ability to fully participate in the electoral process.”

Dominicanos USA Executive Director Eddie Cuesta said, “DUSA commends the Governor’s efforts in signing a law that will ensure greater participation in our elections for all voters. This law will guarantee voters now have a chance to truly be heard at every level of government. We look forward to engaging the community to continue turning out and participating in the electoral process.”

Co-Founder and Director of YVote Sanda Balaban said, “YVote enthusiastically applauds Governor Hochul for signing this vital legislation into law today. Moving local elections to even years will foster a more equitable democracy in communities across our state, including for our youngest voters who deserve to have their voices heard loud and clear at the ballot box. As an organization focused on motivating and mobilizing young voters, we know what a difference this will make. We thank lawmakers for prioritizing and advancing this pro-voter policy this session.”

Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School said, “Aligning local elections with general elections has been proven to be one of the single most effective ways to not only reduce the turnout gaps by race and age, but also to improve governance outcomes so that local governments are better reflective of the will of their constituents. The Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School applauds Gov. Hochul and the bill sponsors, Sen. Skoufis and AM Paulin, for helping New York join the group of states that have taken this important step to improve representation in local government.”

YMCA of Greater New York President & CEO Sharon Greenberger said, “The YMCA of Greater New York celebrates Governor Hochul’s decision to sign S3505-B/A4282-B into law and increase voter participation by moving local elections to even-numbered years. Every year the Y registers voters and shares election information so our members can make their voices heard at the ballot box. We are overjoyed to see community members gain more access and we look forward to seeing a larger share of New Yorkers participating in local elections.”

Today's action builds on Governor Hochul's strong record of strengthening voting rights and expanding access to the ballot throughout her administration. In June 2022, the Governor enacted the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, the strongest state-level voting rights act in the nation, protecting New York voters against voter dilution, suppression, intimidation and other barriers to voter participation. In December 2022, the Governor enacted legislation expanding the amount of time New Yorkers have to register to vote, moving the deadline for voter registration from 25 days ahead of an election to the constitutionally-allowed minimum of just 10 days ahead of an election. In September 2023, Governor Hochul signed legislation establishing a system for early voting by mail, creating a process allowing all eligible, registered New York voters the opportunity to vote early by mail in advance of an election.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640


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