Gov. Cuomo signs law allowing early voting

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WOODBURY -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed into law the largest expansion of voting rights in New York state in decades.

The law allows registered voters to cast their ballots up to 10 days before an election.

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs says his party has been pushing for the change for years.

"Until we got a Democratic state Senate, you had Republicans who just would never bring it up," Jacobs says.

Republican Committee Chairman Joe Cairo sent a statement to News 12 saying: "The costs of any new voter programs can be significant, and they should be borne by the state, not our local taxpayers. What's more, sound and sensible safeguards must be put in place to guard against voter fraud and ensure the integrity of our elections."

Early voting isn't the only issue the new law tackles. People ages 16 and 17 will be able to preregister to vote, and officials will have to automatically update registration for voters who move.

The law also limits political contributions from limited liability companies and mandates that federal and state primaries be held on the same day -- a move that could save taxpayers money.

Lawrence Levy, of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies, calls it a win-win situation.

"I have to think that both parties benefit when people are engaged, when they care about what's going on in government and the political parties," he says.

Before Thursday, New York was one of only 12 states that didn't allow early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

As for what caused the holdup in New York, Levy says, "Any time you expand the number of people who go to the polls, the party in the majority tends to benefit disproportionately than the party in the minority, and this is a heavily Democratic state."

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