Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on changes to New York’s election laws Thursday that are designed to make it easier to vote, including allowing people to cast ballots before Election Day and preregistering student drivers so they’ll be automatically eligible to vote when they turn 18.
New York voters will be able to cast ballots in person up to 10 days before an election starting with the statewide elections later this year. Another measure signed into law Thursday will consolidate a confusing set of state and federal primaries into a single election in June. A third will preregister 16- and 17-year-olds when they sign up for a driving permit so they’re automatically able to vote at age 18.
Cuomo was joined at the signing ceremony in Manhattan by actor and producer Ben Stiller, who campaigned for Democratic state Senate candidates last year and helped them retake control of the chamber from Republicans who had stymied past efforts to join most other states by allowing early voting.
“This issue of voting rights is very important for all New Yorkers,” Stiller told reporters at the signing ceremony. “It’s fundamental to our democracy.”
Stiller also thanked Cuomo for the state’s support for the film industry, including tax credits for television shows and movies filmed in the state. Stiller produced the recent Showtime series “Escape at Dannemora,” which told the story of the 2015 escape of convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. The three-week manhunt ended with Matt being killed in a shootout and Sweat being captured.
“He really goes very far to make sure that productions come to New York — going as far as staging a prison break at Clinton,” Stiller joked.
Cuomo was played in the series by Michael Imperioli. On Thursday,. he jokingly suggested a few other actors should have been considered.
“Brad Pitt would have been good. Maybe a George Clooney, Harrison Ford,” Cuomo said. “But Michael Imperioli did a really great job.”