On Monday, New York State Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first Democrat to hold the position since 2010, will introduce a package of highly-anticipated voting reform bills with her Assembly counterpart, Speaker Carl Heastie. The bills include early voting, same-day voter registration, and the consolidation of state and local primaries, and are expected to pass immediately: a signal to voters that the Democratically-controlled legislature is serious about raising New York to the national standard.

New York is currently one of twelve states without an early voting option, a measure that can alleviate crowding and confusion at polling sites. Legislation expected to pass on Monday would allow New Yorkers to vote in person starting two weekends before any election.

Advocates say that allowing voters to register at their polling places on election day—currently New Yorkers must register at least 25 days prior—would help prevent voter purges.

Combining state and local primaries into a single election could help increase New York’s historically abysmal voter turnout.

"Grassroots activists across New York state have fought for years to bring about long overdue voting reform, and the fact that it is being taken up on day one of the legislative session sends a clear message that our voices have been heard,” said Shabd Simon-Alexander, organizing director for Let NY Vote, a statewide activist coalition whose members are traveling to Albany this morning to celebrate.

But advocates for criminal justice reform say they are disappointed the day-one package excludes, among other measures, the codification of parolee voting rights. Governor Andrew Cuomo enfranchised most of the state's 35,000 parolees last year by way of Executive Order. But orders are vulnerable to revocation by subsequent administrations, and advocates say legislation could eliminate confusion about who qualifies.

Jose Saldana, Director of the nonprofit Release Aging People from Prison, has been on parole for one year following a 37-year prison sentence for attempted murder. He says that he was "terribly, terribly disappointed" to learn that Monday's package excluded parolee voting rights. "I voted for the first time in the primaries in September and I can't even describe—it was a great feeling. It was the first time I had ever voted in my life," he said.

“I think this should be a very simple matter,” Saldana added. “The Democrats are the majority. This is not heavy lifting.”

Democratic leadership told Gothamist that bills left off the day-one package will not be forgotten. “There are a number of incredibly important things,” said Queens Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, noting that one of his own priorities, automatic voter registration, is not on Monday’s list. “We’ll get to it, there’s just a long list.”

“Over the coming legislative session, we will review many bills and discuss issues in the Majority Conference before determining how best to move forward,” Stewart-Cousins added in a statement.

Other voting rights priorities left out of Monday’s voting rights package include the ability to change party affiliation close to an election (the deadline is currently October of the previous year), and a bill that would create more user-friendly ballots, Stewart-Cousins' office confirmed.

Parolee enfranchisement is particularly controversial among Republicans. The State GOP released an attack ad last October decrying Cuomo's executive order, and held two Senate hearings on the issue.

Southeast Queens Senator Leroy Comrie has introduced legislation two years running that would enfranchise all parolees automatically, without the case-by-case pardoning of Cuomo’s executive order. A Comrie staffer confirmed Friday that he’s met regularly with advocates to refine the bill—adding a voter education provision, for example—and that Comrie will push for its passage this session.

Zellnor Myrie, a freshman senator representing central Brooklyn who unseated a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, is now chair of the elections committee. He told Gothamist that parolee enfranchisement will be a major priority for him this session, though he confirmed there is “nothing on the calendar right now.”

Once passed, Monday’s bills will go to Governor Cuomo for signing. "Anything that's not done, we will try to get wrapped up in the budget," Cuomo told WAMC Radio on Thursday. Same-day registration, a constitutional amendment, will also require a statewide voter referendum.

The New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a member of the Let NY Vote coalition, learned about the day-one package last week.

“Trying to do a stand-alone on parolees is going to be harder than doing it as part of a broad election package,” Renee Paradis, a DSA member organizing the group’s electoral reform work, predicted. “I think we in DSA are worried that people are going to say, ‘Well, job well done.’ And a lot of the impetus to make sure New York has a responsive democracy is gone once you get the press that you want.”