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Cuomo proposes easier voting, targets Russia interference

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks about the

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks about the Bethpage plume and the states answer to solving the issue on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 in Farmingdale. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed measures to allow for early voting and same-day voter registration as well as safeguards to identify big-money donors behind campaign ads on social media, while adopting a federal proposal to combat election interference by Russia.

The proposals will be part of Cuomo’s State of the State address in January when he will provide his agenda for the 2018 legislative session. The proposals aren’t new, but they would gain renewed strength as part of the State of the State address.

Cuomo proposes to:

  • Require every county to provide at least one early voting polling site per 50,000 residents that would be open for 12 days before Election Day. The poll would also be open for five hours on weekends.
  • Automatically enroll residents to vote when they interact with state agencies. Residents would, however, be able to opt out of voter registration.
  • Allow residents to register to vote on Election Day.
  • Require a public record identifying buyers of political ads through social media, which is already required for TV and radio ads. Violations would result in civil penalties of $1,000 for each instance.
  • Codify a bipartisan proposal in Congress to combat interference by Russia and other countries in U.S. elections by regulating online political advertising.

“What we saw during the last election was a systematic effort to undermine and manipulate our very democracy,” Cuomo said. “With these new safeguards, New York — in the strongest terms possible — will combat unscrupulous and shadowy threats to our electoral process, as well as break down fundamental barriers that for far too long have prevented New Yorkers from being heard and from exercising their right to vote.”

The proposal already has some support in the Legislature. Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) introduced a bill in October to require similar transparency in political messages under an expanded definition of what includes “political communication.”

“I thank Governor Cuomo for joining this important effort to rid our election process of these false, misleading and anonymous advertisements,” Kaminsky said Thursday. “It is important that we restore the voters’ trust in government, and Governor Cuomo advancing this initiative will ensure we are able to take real steps to clean up campaigns in New York.”

The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemb. James Skoufis (D-Woodbury).

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