ALBANY -- New York is hoping to join 37 other states that allow for early voting.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week he is including $7 million in his budget plan to allow for early voting in New York, starting in 2019.
The measure would allow New Yorkers to cast their vote 12 days prior to future election days.
"Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and no one should have to choose between exercising their sacred right to vote and going to work, school or personal commitments," Cuomo said in a statement.
"By offering early voting across the state, we are further breaking down barriers to democracy and helping to ensure that all New Yorkers' voices are heard."
Good-government groups have for years called on New York to allow for early voting as a way to boost voter participation.
But measures to do so have languished at the state Capitol. Cuomo is including the money in his budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts April 1.
According to the US Census Bureau in the 2016 election, New York had a voter turnout of nearly 51 percent. New York had the eighth lowest voter turnout of any state that year.
According to state officials, research shows that people with work, school, and other commitments can be prevented from voting on Election Day. By giving voters more time to vote, they may be better able to cast their ballot, advocates said.
If passed by the state Legislature, New Yorkers would be able to vote during the 12 days leading up to Election Day: They would have eight hours to vote during week days and five hours to vote during weekend days.
Currently, New Yorkers can only vote before Election Day using an absentee ballot.
Voters in New York can only apply for an absentee ballot if they meet one of the requirements, such as being outside their county on Election Day, if they are sick or disabled or if they are being detained or awaiting trial for a non-felony crime.
The budget amendment would require that counties have one early voting location for every 50,000 residents.
The county boards of election would be responsible for determining the locations of early voting sites.
Advocates of the measure praised Cuomo's support.
“New York state has had an abysmal rate of voter turnout and participation for far too long,” Jennifer Wilson, executive director of the state League of Women Voters, said in a statement.
“With these reforms, voters will be able to vote at a time when it is most convenient for them.”