Democratic state lawmakers in New York want to expand early voting options to include voting by mail, a move meant to further address the state's election laws after voters rejected a more narrowly prescribed constitutional amendment for absentee balloting. 

The proposal, backed by Assemblymember Karines Reyes and state Sen. Michael Gianaris, would give all New York voters the option to vote early by mail. 

The measure is being proposed after voters in 2021 rejected a constitutional amendment to allow for no-excuse absentee balloting. Unlike that measure, expanding early voting through the mail would not require a change to the state's constitution, lawmakers said. 

“Voting is a fundamental right and the easier we make it to vote, the healthier our democracy will be,” Gianaris said“I am proud the State Senate continues to build on its important work of expanding access to the ballot box for all New Yorkers.” 

Supporters pointed to similar provisions in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. 

“As voting rights continually come under in state legislatures across the state, our state can take a bold step in protecting the rights of New Yorkers seeking to access the ballot box,” Reyes said. “I am pleased to sponsor the New York Early Mail Voter Act with State Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris to ease the burdens that voters face and increase voter participation in our democracy.” 

Republican and Conservative Party leaders have objected to efforts to expand absentee balloting or vote-by-mail options. In 2021, proposed amendments for no-excuse absentee balloting and same-day voter registration failed to pass. 

At the time, Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar knocked the proposals, arguing elections officials would be overwhelmed. 

"That should be of a great concern to the electoral franchise so we do not believe the boards of elections have shown themselves to be able to handle this type of voting at mass volume," Kassar said.