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State Dems’ election reform bills aim to boost voter turnout

ALBANY — Election reforms including early voting, registering to vote on the same day as casting a ballot, and voting over the internet are among the many proposals that would take New York out of the cellar among states with the worst turnout, Democrats said this week.

“New York has long been a bastion of democracy, but our state’s current system of registration and voting is an affront to that legacy,” state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Wednesday.

His proposals would include allowing New Yorkers to cast votes — not just absentee votes — before election days, allow for same-day voter registration, consolidate primaries so voters don’t have to deal with three or sometimes four elections in a year, and shorten party registration deadlines so voters could join a party shortly before the primary vote. Currently, voters must register in a party nearly a year before a primary, usually long before candidates are known.

The Senate’s mainline Democrats earlier this week supported those measures and proposed several more to get New York out of 44th place among states for voter turnout. The Democrats want to register an estimated 2 million New Yorkers who are eligible to vote to move toward voting over the internet.

“If you can do high-level banking over the internet, why can’t you vote over the internet?” said Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), who sponsors the bill.

“In New York,” said Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers), “we are stealing our own vote away. . . . We will fight to protect our voting rights.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has also proposed same-day voter registration in his budget proposal where, under state law, he has more leverage than usual to implement his policies.

The Senate’s Republican majority has blocked some of the measures to ease voting when they have been proposed in the past, saying such measures threaten to increase voter fraud.

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