The Nassau County Legislature approved borrowing $3.7 million to implement early voting on Monday.
The measure comes after the state Legislature approved a resolution in January to hold voting each day for the 10 days before Election Day.
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said in an email that the money will pay for the electronic poll books that will be placed at each polling location on Election Day, which will facilitate the county’s ability to have early voting.
“Without the electronic version of the poll book, the Board of Elections would not have enough time to update the paper books to show that someone had voted early,” he said.
Larry Nedelka, an executive assistant to the commissioner at the Nassau County Board of Elections, said that the electronic machines “will give us better control on security as far as voter fraud.”
The state law requires local voting authorities to have an early voting location for every 50,000 registered voters they serve. However, it caps the number of polling locations that are mandated by the state at seven.
But Nicolello said that the Board of Elections is considering providing more than seven locations to Nassau’s voters.
During the Legislature meeting, Nicolello said that while he voted for the borrowing because it was necessary, he is disappointed with the burden being put on the county without state funding.
He called it another “unfunded mandate” until and if the state Legislature approves funding for it.
State legislators “pass something that obviously generates more opportunity for people to vote,” Nicolello said, “pat themselves on the back and then as is usually the case the funding of it goes down to the local level and gets paid for by the property taxpayer.”
He said property tax was the most regressive form of payment.
The state Senate has included a provision in its budget resolution that would allocate $10 million toward funding early voting and other voting reforms, and the state Assembly has proposed up to $34 million to local boards of elections to implement early voting.