Memorandum of Support: A4294 Designating Non-Student attendance day for General Elections

(As Chair of the Democratic Caucus of NYSECA I will from time to time issue Memorandums of Support on Election bills before the NYS Legislature. I am posting them on my website for lawmakers and the public to know our positions. You can see my caucus’ legislative priorities here as well as the Bi-Partisan Legislative agenda for NYSECA here. If you agree with this bill consider contacting your local representative and asking them to support the bill.)

Memorandum of Support

Bill:  A4294

Sponsor:  Stirpe

Summary: Relates to school session days; adds general election day to the list of days when school will not be in session; allows a school district to elect to require staff attendance on a general election day or to schedule a professional development day.

The NYS Election Commissioners Association Democratic Caucus supports A4294 which would mandate a non-student attendance day for each General Election.  It has become increasingly hard for Boards of Election to find HAVA acceptable buildings for use as polling places.  Schools in many urban, suburban, and rural communities are the only acceptable buildings for voters to gather in.  The COVID pandemic has exacerbated this problem, as traditional polling places such as churches and nursing homes have either closed or refused to be polling places. 

With the rise in school safety issues, parents, teachers, and administrators have raised concerns related to locating poll sites in schools.  To alleviate this problem, many school districts across the state have already adopted calendars that move their late October, early November staff development days to the General Election Day.  However, some schools have refused to do so.  Doing so statewide would eliminate the concern for student safety during elections. Additionally high school seniors would be available as Election Inspectors, filling another major need of our Democracy.

The Democratic Caucus supports this bill in our 2023 Legislative Priorities and we note it is also supported by the NYS Election Commissioners Association Bi-Partisan Legislative Agenda.  Passing this bill will strengthen the backbone of our bi-partisan election system in New York and we urge the legislature to pass this bill and the Governor to sign it as soon as possible.

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