For years, New York was a laggard when it came to new voting laws. States, regardless of which party dominated, expanded the ability for people to vote before Election Day and vote by mail.
New York, however, has started to catch up. And on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the latest changes to the state's voting laws by allowing voters to apply for absentee ballots online and allow for absentee ballots to be postmarked by Election Day for them to be considered timely.
And another change could be coming soon if voters give final approval to a constitutional amendment ending a narrow list of excuses required for obtaining an absentee ballot.
Some of the changes are due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a temporary lifting of provisions governing absentee ballots. But also Democrats have gained control of the state Senate after vowing to expand voting laws through early voting and automatic voter registration.
"The current Legislature is doing an excellent job bringing us up to speed as quickly as possible without having any risk of voter disenfranchisement or fraud," said Jennifer Wilson, the deputy director of the League of Women Voters in New York.
More voters than ever turned to absentee balloting during the pandemic, and good-government advocates expect the interest in voting remotely to continue.
"Allowing voters to request their absentee ballot online is such a simple policy impact I think is going to have a huge impact," Wilson said. "We definitely saw during the pandemic a lot of people requesting their ballots online."
Election law attorney Jerry Goldfeder said New York also stands in stark contrast to other states in the country that have tightened voting laws in recent months.
"There are still things we can do in New York, but when you compare what we've been doing with the Republican states — there's just no comparison," Goldfeder said.
But will these changes lead to more New Yorkers voting as many good-government advocates hope? Goldfeder said it's more likely other factors are at play.
"What increases turnout," Goldfeder said, "is when there is an election with people, candidates, with a message that resonants with the voters."