People For the American Way

New York Needs Early Voting

People For in Action
New York Needs Early Voting
Voters cast their ballot during early voting in the 2016 presidential election. (Shutterstock)

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo included early voting in his January 16 executive budget, he did not commit to fully funding it throughout the state. Now Governor Cuomo has until February 15 to change course and make early voting a priority in his amended budget. New York is one of only thirteen states without some form of early voting on the books. Casting ballots on a single Tuesday each election doesn’t meet voters’ needs; early voting would ensure that eligible New Yorkers have more options as to when they can vote and aren’t forced to compromise their family and work responsibilities to exercise this fundamental right. People For the American Way supports the Let NY Vote coalition in their call for early voting. Click to download the national allies’ letter signed by PFAW.

Dear Governor Cuomo,

We, the undersigned national organizations, urge you to follow through on your stated goal of including early voting funding and legislation in the 2018-19 state budget, as the first step towards giving all eligible New Yorkers the freedom to vote.

Alarmingly, in our country it is still the case that our elections have too many missing voices due to racial and class barriers. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were two hard fought successes of the civil rights movement, rules that undermine fair voting practices and put eligible voters at risk have only taken new forms over time. New York’s failure to modernize its elections harms voters instead of helping them.

As we approach this year’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January15, we are mindful that one of Dr. King’s biggest commitments was to remove barriers to every step of the voting process. But in New York, outdated voting rules discourage voter participation and help reduce voter turnout. We are encouraged by the possibility that passing early voting funding and legislation in the 2018-19 New York State budget can help change that.

Modernizing New York’s elections will not only benefit New Yorkers but will make the work of protecting the right to vote throughout the country easier. When voting rights aren’t defended in New York, it makes it that much harder to protect eligible voters in North Carolina, Alabama, and Ohio. We know it is your goal that New York should be a guardian of core democratic values and a model for the rest of the country. But because New York hasn’t adopted simple voting reform measures, it’s easy for other states to cite New York as a reason for cutting back or repealing voting rights legislation. And, in fact, states like North Carolina and Ohio do point to New York as an excuse for their own voter suppression measures.

We urge you to do everything in your power to remove unnecessary barriers to voting for New Yorkers and include early voting funding and legislation in the 2018-19 state budget.


ACLU Voting Rights Project & NYCLU Voting Rights Project
AFT-American Federation of Teachers
Anti-Defamation League
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote
Campus Vote Project
Common Cause
CWA District One
Daily Kos
Democracy Initiative
Every Voice
Fair Elections Legal Network
Friends of the Earth US
Greenpeace USA
Hip Hop Caucus
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of Women Voters of the United States
MayDay America
NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
National Action Network
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Resources Defense Council
Patriotic Millionaires
People For the American Way
People’s Action
Progressive Turnout Project
Public Citizen
Rock the Vote
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
The Brennan Center for Justice
The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights
The Student Public Interest Research Groups
Unitarian Universalist Association


Andrew Cuomo, early voting, New York, Protecting the Right to Vote, voting rights