Election Day is a little less than four weeks away, but thanks to a series of reforms passed by the State Legislature in January, Nassau County residents can vote during a nine-day period before Nov. 5.
The process, known as early voting, is intended to make the process easier for people who struggle to get to the polls on Election Day. The legislation, authored by State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove who chairs the Assembly’s Election Law Committee, requires that counties allow New Yorkers to vote in person up to 10 days before an election. The law also mandates a minimum number of polling sites and hours per county based on the number of registered voters. New York is the 38th state to pass an early-voting law.
In June, state and local officials announced 15 locations in Nassau County that will be used as early-voting sites before the general election (see map). The County Board of Elections announced the sites, which more than double the state requirement of seven sites, and a nine-day schedule that offers 69 hours for early voting — 60 are required — including evenings and weekends.
Former Democratic Election Commissioner David Gugerty said the Board of Elections looked at certain criteria when it chose the early-voting sites — many are existing polling places — such as handicapped accessibility, parking and proximity to public transportation. Gugerty added that registered Nassau voters can vote at any of the sites during the nine days of early voting.
In March, Lavine told the Herald that it was important that counties were not “saddled with the extra expense” of implementing the early-voting system. The Assembly and Senate set aside $17 million to cover general operating expenses. Additionally, the Assembly allocated $27 million for electronic poll books and scanning devices to print ballots for people who live in different election districts.
A panel discussion on early voting will be held at Hofstra University’s Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center Theater on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. Attendees will learn about the early-voting process and other New York state election reforms from a panel of experts.
Residents who have questions about the county’s early-voting procedures can visit www.nassauvotes.com.
Ben Strack contributed to this story.