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Early Voting Is Good Policy

Unfunded state mandates. Talk about a scary term for Halloween season. We hear about them every year. Albany passes laws that require local governments to administer often with a hefty price tag but no additional financial support from the state. Localities’ budgets are squeezed even tighter while they’re forced to ration their resources or risk penalties from our imperious state government.

On one hand, state mandates are sometimes just fundamentally lousy laws that cost too much and therefore a double-whammy to the municipalities required to implement them.

On the other hand, a new state law can actually be a great idea in principle but still strain towns, villages, and counties financially under the tax cap (another state imposed mandate).

The new early voting law, passed earlier this year, is a great example of good policy that is nevertheless difficult to implement and will cause municipalities plenty of headaches.

Notwithstanding the practical complications, ultimately, the more opportunity citizens have to vote is always the better; no exceptions.

Early voting begins October 26 and runs through Election Day November 5th. Each county will have several locations at which citizens can vote during select hours leading up to election day. That gives you a week-and-a-half to cast your ballot should you be busy on election day or god forbid it rains.

The politics of early voting will be fascinating. Historically higher voter turnout favors Democrats where Republicans fare better when fewer people vote.

Could early voting be a vast conspiracy by Governor Cuomo and the infamous “Downstate Liberals” to further entrench their control of state government by giving more citizens the opportunity to vote? Or, might it result in more polarized results because more Republicans will vote in conservative areas and more Democrats in liberal areas?

Boards of elections across the state have been vocal about the additional burden this places on their staff and finances. The increased number of polling sites require more professional staff, hiring poll workers, new electronic systems, additional training, longer hours et cetera.

Certainly, I do not envy the civil servants tasked with organizing and managing these operations but one way or another they’ll get it done and more people will be able to vote because of it.

For that, they deserve praise. With each passing year state and local governments will adjust and the early voting provision will prove a good one.

Derek Smith is a Frewsburg native.

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