LOWER MANHATTAN — New York State had an extremely low voter turn out in 2016, ranked 41st out of 50 states, and many blame the state’s antiquated voting laws, including the lack of early voting, for that low turnout.
People gathered in Foley Square on Sunday to push for early voting, which would allow eligible voters to cast ballots in person days or even weeks before an election. Demonstrator Laura Lopez noted it can be difficult to find the time to vote when given just one day to do it.
"I have friends in the medical field that have long commutes and insane hours,” Lopez said. “But they could vote with early voting."
Thirty seven states already have early voting.
“New York State is one of the few states in the union where you have just one day to vote, just one day,” Leslie Clark, a member of Empire State Indivisible, said.
Governor Cuomo’s budget provides $7 million to make the change. But many politicians speaking at the rally says it’s other politicians, specifically white males in Albany who like the antiquated voting laws just the way they are, holding the state back.
“We need more young people; we need more women; we need more people of color,” Letitia James, NYC public advocate, said. “To unleash that power through early voting could change the dynamics and the demographics of the State Senate."
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also called for early voting.
"We’ve got to turn this around this year," he said. "Now is the time."