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Long Island Lawmakers Want An Early Voting Site In Every Town

John Froschauer

State lawmakers on eastern Long Island have introduced a bill that would require every town in Suffolk County to have an early voting site ahead of Election Day — right now, Shelter Island voters need a boat to cast a ballot.

The bill requires every county in New York with more than 1 million residents to have an early voting site in every town.

Last year, Suffolk County had 10 early voting sites — one for each town. This year, it has 12, but one town, Shelter Island, doesn’t have any.

Nick LaLota is the Republican Commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections. He said it was a bipartisan decision to reallocate resources to more populated, minority communities.

“This conversation has really only ever been about resources. If we had infinite resources, there wouldn't have been a need to take the early voting location out of Shelter Island in favor of placing ones in Shirley, Brentwood and Huntington Station,” LaLota said. “But that's not the case. Because the Legislature has given us barely nothing in this unfunded mandate.”

State Senator Ken LaValle and assemblymen Fred Thiele and Anthony Palumbo sponsored the bill. They say the 2,500 registered voters on Shelter Island shouldn’t need to catch a ferry to participate in democracy. Voters will also be able to vote in-person and by mail this Election Day.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.