Voters in New York went to the polls Thursday to cast their votes in primary elections across the state, which provided a good reminder that New York is not an easy state in which to exercise your voting rights.
New York is one of 24 states in the country that doesn’t allow any early voting and one of 20 states that requires an excuse to cast an absentee ballot.
New York’s deadline to register to vote (25 days before the election) is among the bottom half of states in terms of how friendly it is to prospective voters. Ten states plus Washington, D.C., allow you to register in person on Election Day. In New York, if you want to vote in the Nov. 6 election, you need to register by Oct. 12.
Denying early voting, requiring excuses to cast an absentee ballot and setting an early registration deadline all temper voter turnout unnecessarily. New York and every other state should be doing everything possible to encourage as many people as possible to vote without compromising the integrity of the election process.
That’s why, though it’s a small step, it’s encouraging to see that Rochester Institute of Technology has an on-campus voting site for the first time this year.
Students who are registered using their on-campus address can vote at the station in RIT’s Gene Polisseni Center. This could be a big step in encouraging more RIT students to vote in this year’s election, especially if there is steady foot traffic to the campus polling site that gets the attention of other students.
“We’ve very excited about having a polling place on campus this year,” Deborah Stendardi, RIT’s vice president for Government and Community Relations, said. “We hope … to make it as convenient as possible for our students who are registered to be able to vote right here on the campus.”
Of course, given New York’s early deadlines, students who need to change their registration address have less than a month to do so.