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NYS budget will help counties fund early-voting

New York counties will receive assistance from the state to implement early voting this year.

The 2019-20 state budget agreement announced early Sunday includes nearly $25 million to help cover the costs of early voting. In January, New York joined 38 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing early voting before Election Day.

The budget allocates $14.7 million to help counties purchase software election commissioners have said is necessary for the implementation of early voting. This includes electronic poll books, which are digital voter registration records.

The funding could be used to purchase other equipment or software, such as on-demand ballot printers and cybersecurity protections.

There is an additional $10 million in the budget to reimburse local boards of elections for costs associated with the implementation of early voting.

Early voting was part of an election reform package passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January. The state established a nine-day early voting period that will conclude on the Sunday before a primary or general election day.

The new law will require counties to have at least one early voting polling location for every 50,000 registered voters. While that’s a minimum standard, counties have the option of offering more polling sites.

“Early voting is going to be transformative for the system,” Cuomo said before he signed the bill in January.

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