EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Eastchester residents expressed support for the bill that was forwarded to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday that would move the Eastchester Fire District election date.
After being stagnant for several months, the bill was sent to Cuomo’s office to be signed into law. The bill, proposed by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) and George Latimer (D-37) consolidates the fire district election into the general election in November.
Traditionally, the fire district election, which determines the fire commissioners, is the second Tuesday of December. Residents expressed concern about that date, citing poor weather conditions and falling temperatures as reasons to stay home rather than vote.
“You’re not going to get a lot of older people coming out to vote in the middle of December. It’s cold, and there can be ice and snow on the ground,” Cat Pellini, 62, said. “You’re already going to vote in November, so it makes more sense to have it then anyway.”
Paulin and Latimer have said the purpose of the bill is to increase voter turnout. Less than 5 percent of registered voters in Eastchester, Tuckahoe and Bronxville voted in the last fire district election.
Bronxville resident Dave Schwartz said he didn't know there was a proposed bill to move the date but supported the decision once he was informed of the legislation.
“It’s certainly more logical.," he said. "Who will vote for an office they know nothing about, on a random election date? You’re bound to get more votes just from people going to the polls to vote for the bigger elections.”
There will be double the amount of polling places open during the fire district election once the bill is passed. Currently, just eight are available during the December election, but there will be 16 open during the general election in November.
“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.”