College students this November could have an easier time casting ballots under a provision approved in the New York state budget this month.
State lawmakers approved Gov. Kathy Hochul's original proposal first announced in February that will allow students who live on campus to vote in polling places at their colleges.
Good-government and voting rights advocates expect the measure will boost participation rates for younger voters, an age group that currently has the lowest turnout rate every election cycle.
Still, the budget did not include agreements on broader changes to the state's voting laws that had been proposed by Hochul in her initial plan. Lawmakers did not agree to move forward with a proposal that would lower the voter registration deadline from 25 days prior to Election Day to 10 days.
And lawmakers and the governor did not reach any deals that would make changes to the often-criticized management structure of the state Board of Elections.
Good-government advocates still cheered, however, changes that will overhaul the state's ethics and lobbying regulatory commission as well as measures meant to strengthen transparency for economic development spending.
“Ethical controversies, scandals, resignations, and corruption convictions have for too long been a hallmark of how Albany operates," said Blair Horner, the legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "Adding to that an elections system that is too often marred by incompetence, and there can be no doubt about the source of New Yorkers’ growing cynicism about their own government. The new governor has promised changes and this budget delivers on some, but the ethics deal is way too weak and will not work. When lawmakers return at the end of the month, further measures to ensure the independence of the leadership of the new ethics agency must be at the top of the ‘to-do’ list.’”