ALBANY, New York (LifeSiteNews) – The New York State Senate passed a bill on Monday that would allow for “portable polling locations” during the state’s early voting period for elections.
Senate Bill S242, sponsored by Senate Democrat Rachel May and co-sponsored by Sen. Jeremy A. Cooney and Sen. Lea Webb, would amend the state’s election law by allowing counties “to establish two or more locations for portable polling places for early voting.” These locations would be created in addition to the number of early voting locations already mandated. Each county would determine the maximum number of portable polling sites allowed based on its population.
These sites would be required to be open for at least three consecutive days, and the designation and location of these polling places could be determined as soon as merely 14 days before the election. The locations would be selected to allow for the largest number of voters by county to have “adequate access” to early voting locations.
Factors the bills lists to consider when selecting portable polling site locations include “population density, travel time to the polling place, proximity to other early polling sites, public transportation routes, commuter traffic patterns,” and other factors considered appropriate by the Board of Elections.
According to the bill, despite having multiple days of early voting in New York State and having the option to submit a mail-in ballot, voters still do not have “fully accessible allocation of polling places.” These portable polling sites would act as a “solution” to increase voter turnout, “especially in allowing for expanded access by rural and elderly voters” and serve as a way to make voting in the state “easier and less confusing.”
The bill passed the state Senate 43-17 in a floor vote. The bill previously passed the Elections Committee earlier that day in a vote of 5-2, with the two Republicans on the committee voting against it.
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Republican State Sen. Steven Rhoads spoke out against the bill on the Senate floor prior to the vote, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.”
“Through this bill, if it were to pass, we create a situation where we have legitimate security concerns, we have legitimate cost concerns, and there’s no discernible benefit that arises from doing it,” Rhoads explained.
Rhoads also noted that if a rural county has a need to establish an additional polling site—an example used in the bill to justify this legislation—they are already able to do so.
Senator Steven Rhoads spoke on the #NYSenate floor yesterday to stand up for Safe & Secure Elections. 🔒🗳️
📺WATCH 👇 pic.twitter.com/JdVbrCss8X
— NYS Senate Republicans (@nysenategop) January 10, 2023
Because of the ambiguity in the bill for how these portable polling locations would be secured, it raises many concerns regarding election integrity. As explained by Republican Sen. George Borrello on the Senate floor, “there’s just not enough guardrails to ensure we’re doing this properly.”
Borrello explained that because New York does not require voter identification to vote at the polls, someone potentially could know another person’s name and address and vote under that alternate name. “That certainly is the case in general in New York State,” he stated, “but we’re gonna make it that much more difficult to track and that much less secure with these portable stations.”
New York Democrats had previously tried to pass this legislation during both the 2019-2020 and the 2021-2022 legislative sessions. In both cases, it had passed the State Senate but did not move past the Assembly. If passed and signed into law this year, the legislation will go into effect next January.
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