ALBANY — Female lawmakers in New York are pushing to end outdated and cumbersome voting rules that they say make it harder for people, and particularly women, to cast a ballot.
A group of several lawmakers, local government officials, union leaders and community activists — all women — wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders Monday urging them to authorize early voting and automatic voter registration.
Cuomo, a Democrat, proposed the voting reforms as part of his state budget recommendation but the measures have received little debate in the Legislature as the April 1 budget deadline approaches. That has supporters concerned they'll be left out of the final budget.
"Our election laws do not have to remain archaic," said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, D-Brooklyn. "We have to get up, get out, be engaged. Talk is cheap."
New York is one of a minority of states that doesn't allow early voting, and the state has some of the most restrictive registration rules in the country. Critics of the state's election laws say the antiquated and hard to understand rules are the main reason why the state regularly has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation.
Early party enrollment deadlines prevented many people from casting a primary ballot last year, including two of President Donald Trump's children.
Early voting would allow citizens to cast a ballot in the days leading up to an election. Under automatic registration, a person would be signed up to vote whenever they have contact with a government agency such as the Department of Motor Vehicles — unless they decline.
While the changes would make it easier for anyone to vote, they would be especially helpful for women balancing work and family obligations who can't make the time to vote on Election Day, according to Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan.
"A century after our foremothers won the vote, many Americans still struggle to take advantage of our most fundamental right of citizenship," she said. "Early voting and automatic voter registration are not radical proposals — they are commonsense solutions that have worked in other states."