The New York state Legislature – now under Democratic control – quickly passed electoral reforms this week, including the introduction of early voting.
While the state’s Association of Counties supports the practice of early voting, it is concerned about the financial and workload impacts on local boards of elections. Association Executive Director Stephen Acquario says the measure, which Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign into law, could cost counties statewide more than $20 million.
“This is squarely an unfunded mandate that was passed on a Monday and we would urge the governor to veto it,” Acquario said Wednesday. “And we will urge the veto on that unless there is an appropriation made for local governments. We are operating in a tax cap environment in New York State. Local governments cannot assume any new state policy because of this property tax cap.”
Backers of the legislation say the increased cost of 10 days of early voting would be covered by $25 million in savings by merging state and federal primaries, a move the Association of Counties supports. But Acquairo says the savings would only be there for one year. Cuomo unveiled his $178 billion spending plan Tuesday. The governor was asked about the so-called unfunded mandates on WAMC’s The Roundtable Wednesday.
“These board of elections – you know you want to talk about efficiency, performance and waste,” Cuomo said. “Many of them are highly politicized organizations and if we want to look at their budgets and find efficiencies, which is going to be required before you get more money. You don’t just get money, you have to need it.”