After a bumpy start, Nassau County is headed in the right direction as it prepares to introduce early voting this fall. It’s important that the implementation continues to go well, and that all too often petty and partisan squabbles are avoided. Early voting is an important step forward for more civic engagement. In both Nassau and Suffolk, voters deserve quick and easy access to polling places, in enough locations, sited as conveniently as possible to serve all communities.
The Nassau County Legislature agreed on Monday to borrow $3.7 million to pay for the electronic poll books and machines. The purchases will allow residents to vote in any of the polls open for nine days before Election Day. The state law allowing early voting enacted this January says Nassau must have a minimum of seven sites and suggests a metric of one per every 50,000 voters, which in Nassau would be 19. Earlier this month, Republicans in the county legislature had balked at opening so many polls. In response, Democrats accused them of trying to stifle turnout. Now, though, the parties say they are coming together to host the suggested number of sites, as they should.
Suffolk County has not yet moved to finance its early voting equipment or announced how many sites it will open, but the Democrats and Republicans who share control of the county board of elections say they are talking about nine or 10 sites. That’s probably too few for such a large area, and potentially too few to conveniently serve the percentage of the nearly 1 million Suffolk voters who may want to cast ballots before Election Day. Suffolk ought to open 19 early polls, too.
Early voting will increase turnout and ease Election Day crowds only if it’s accessible and convenient. County election boards must open enough properly equipped and staffed polls to ensure success.
— The editorial board