Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a bill package that looks to improve the voting experience in New York while also speeding up the process to certify elections, which are considered the worst in the country. A version of the bill package, however, is already being discussed in the state Senate chambers.

Cuomo's list of proposals include counting mail-in ballots the same day boards of election receive them, expanding the number of early voting sites, giving voters more time to apply for an absentee ballot, and allowing voters to decide whether to approve a law clearing anyone to vote absentee.

"Our election system, on which our democracy is built, has, and continues to be, under attack by those seeking to undermine the founding principles of our nation and we must not only protect it, but ensure it can be accessed by all," Cuomo said in a statement. "While we have already made some progress in modernizing New York's election system, there is much left to do and this historic package of election reforms will be critical in strengthening how elections are run and ensuring all New Yorkers are able to exercise this fundamental right."

The proposal—which will be formally announced during Cuomo's state of the state address—comes three weeks after the governor signed a measure that automatically registers New Yorkers to vote.

Cuomo's bill package mirrors those that are set to be passed by the state Senate, including two by Queens state Senator Michael Gianaris, who already proposed measures last year that allow more time for absentee ballots, while also having mail-in ballots counted the moment BOEs receive them so they can be folded into the election. Under state rules, BOEs must wait days after Election Day to begin counting ballots, a process that can prolong the outcome of a race. Cuomo, who can't pass bills, plans to work wit the Senate and the Assembly to get those bills passed.

"We're the only state in the country that's still has unresolved elections as we speak. We have a congressional race upstate, that's still not finished. So by all accounts, we are the worst in the nation in terms of the getting our results finalized," Gianaris, referring to the undecided congressional race between Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney, said. "We're very lucky we're not a swing state in the presidential election, or else this would be a national scandal. This point, we're still counting presidential votes in January."

Election delays were more pronounced last year when mail-in ballots played an unprecedented role in the state's primary and general election for several races due to the pandemic, which kept weary voters from casting a ballot in person. Ahead of the November election, Cuomo had eased the process for voters applying and obtaining an absentee ballot, signing an executive order that allowed them to receive a ballot so long as they expressed concerns over contracting COVID-19 at a polling site. As a result, an estimated five million ballots were sent out. The New York City Board of Elections processed 662,000 ballots for the November election, the largest in recent memory .

Should Cuomo sign the legislation by March, the process could be in effect ahead of the June primary where voters will decide the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor. With the pandemic still raging, absentee ballots can likely play a much larger role come June.

"It's our expectation is that the volume increase in absentee votes will will continue to grow," Gianaris said. "So this is a problem we have to solve in terms of the counting because [...] one of the problems was the volume was so big that the normal processes of counting at the boards of elections or inadequate to to do the counting in an expeditious manner."