Proposed Assembly bill fines voters for not voting on Election Day

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 20, 2017

10 dollars. 

That's the penalty you could be forced to pay if you don't visit the polls on any given Election Day.  It's a new bill floating around Albany, and it isn't sitting well with a lot of western New Yorkers.

“I think that's extreme and unfair. Suppose there's somebody that I don't care for. Suppose there's no candidate I feel worthy of my vote. I should have that choice,” said registered voter, Thomas Green. “You shouldn't have to be forced to vote,” added Justin Pascullo. “I mean, you should vote. The proposal is stupid though.”

In fact, most of the people we polled didn't support imposing a 10 dollar fine for not voting. But, there were at least a few of you who support the idea. “It's a step toward the right direction,” said Stephen Szwajda. “A lot of people have opinions and expressed them on Facebook but they don't go to the voting booth.” “I think it's a little bit much but at the same time we need to get people out voting,” said Leah Pabst who is still unsure about the bill. 

Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner, Jeremy Zellner hopes this bill starts the conversation for increasing voter turnout. But, he isn't sure a fine is the way to go. “I don't know how you would institute a fine for someone not voting. That would take a whole new level of government,” Zellner said.

It's also unclear whether the bill is unconstitutional. Zellner said that would be up to the courts to decide.

The bill remains a long shot. It doesn't have a same as bill in the Senate, something that needs to happen if it has a chance of becoming a law.