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How NY voter reform will impact local elections

(WBNG) — New voting reforms will give New York residents more options to cast their votes starting this year.

“Anything that can be done to increase voter turnout and awareness of the issues, we are all for it,” said the Republican Elections Commissioner with the Broome County Board of Elections, Oliver Blaise.

The Broome County Board of Elections says voter turnout is rising and they say the goal of these new changes is to help make voting easier and provide greater access for everyone.

The biggest changes starting this year include early voting, joint primaries for state and local elections, and giving young people the chance to register to vote before they turn 18.

Also this year, voters will be able cast general election ballots up to 10 days before the election.

However, the Broome County Election Board says the lack of necessary equipment could make things difficult for poll workers.

“We have to be able to track all of the potentially thousands of voters that may be coming in early and making sure we have it logged so that on general election day it is logged that they have voted,” said Blaise. “If there are 141 different poll books of each of our sites, we have to note who voted in the week and a half before the general election and that’s a significant challenge to make sure that those general election poll books are up to date. We have a very small window to do that.”

Blaise says the board is asking for state funding to receive the electronic equipment needed to keep track of the new early voting regulations.

State and local primary elections have now also been combined and will take place in June instead of September.

The board of elections says this change will help save money, but the timing of this change passing this January is causing concerns for this year.

“It’s a significant cost savings and labor savings for boards of elections across the state,” said Blaise. “Basically everything that was on our election calendar was shoved back three months, so we had three months less time to prepare than we thought we were going to have.”

The third big change hopes to get the younger crowd more involved in local elections starting next year.

“In January of 2020, 16 and 17 year old’s will be able to pre-register with the board of elections so that when they turn 18, they are good to go and can vote in the next election.”

These new changes may seem overwhelming for some but the board of elections says they are ready.

“We are up for the challenge and hopefully everyone will have a smooth experience when they go to the poll in June,” said Blaise.

This year’s local and state primary elections will take place on June 25.

For more information on how you can register to vote as well as the more dates for local elections, click here.

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