EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Assembly member Amy Paulin’s bill to consolidate the Eastchester Fire District election with the general election has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Traditionally, the election was held on the second Tuesday in December, at a time when inclement weather and poor driving conditions keep many voters at home. Residents will now be able to vote for their fire commissioners at the general election in November.
The bill was co-sponsored by Paulin (D-88) and Sen. George Latimer (D-37), who said that on average, less than 5 percent of registered voters in Eastchester, Tuckahoe and Bronxville cast their vote during fire district elections.
As a part of the general election, 16 polling places will now be open for voters, as opposed to half that number in December. The goal of the bill was to increase voter turnout, which has dwindled even further in recent years.
“We reached out to the Eastchester community and a diversity of voices said they wanted the opportunity to vote in these elections at a more convenient time,” Latimer said. “This is an example of listening to the voice of the people.”
Additionally, absentee ballots will be accepted and the polls will stay open for extended hours, a change that the politicians hope will bring more people to the polls.
“As a former League of Women Voters president, I strongly believe in franchising voters,” Paulin said. “By moving the election to Election Day in November, voters will have longer hours to vote in their usual polling place. The goal all along was to increase voter turnout and I think this legislation will accomplish that.”