Monday, November 2, 2009

Street Finder's Bill Becomes Law Just in Time for Tuesday's Elections

A week before Election Day, Gov. David A. Paterson signed a bill into law that will help voters find their correct voting locations if they are mistaken on Tuesday and go to the wrong polling site.

On Oct. 28 Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s bill (A1002C), which requires election sites in New York state to supply information and maps regarding the location of voting sites, became a law.

“The essence is, you want to enable people to vote and this is a bill that will help accomplish that,” said Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, in an interview with the Legislative Gazette.

According to a prepared statement from the governor’s office, the new law will ensure that workers at polling sites supply voters with the information they need about their correct polling sites, “including countywide maps that delineate voting districts.”

“It is fairly common for voters to end up at the wrong polling place. Now, election workers will have the proper tools to assist these individuals and ensure their votes are counted,” Governor Paterson said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to be working with the legislature on passing laws that increase access and ease for New Yorkers to vote; just last month, I signed a bill requiring New York City to translate all voting materials into Russian.”

Often if a voter shows up to the incorrect polling site, he or she could be informed of their correct voting site, but that it does not always happen. Paulin’s bill is aimed to assist voters who are unsure of or have mistaken their correct polling location.

“It’s to make sure that when voters come into their polling site and their names aren’t found, the poll workers can check their address and send them to the right place or let them vote in the place they’re at if they’re truly in the district,” Paulin said. “We’re franchising people instead of disenfranchising people.

According to a statement released by Allison Esposito, Paulin’s communications director, if an individual in New York goes to the wrong polling site, they may be provided a provisional ballot, and it will not count if submitted in the voter’s incorrect polling place.

Paulin spoke about the law’s effect on elections and voters, saying It will have a great impact on individual people — people want to be able to exercise their right to vote.”

“Mistakes can be made, which can’t be helped unless we dramatically change the system,” Paulin said. “This is a bill that will help people who have moved and who have not voted in a while. 

She added, “This will enable them to get the correct information so that they can exercise their right to vote.”

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