Summary of Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

Preclearance pursuant to the New York Voting Rights Act

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York (the “NYVRA”) was enacted on June 20, 2022, with the express purpose of encouraging participation in the elective franchise by all eligible voters to the maximum extent and ensuring that eligible voters who are members of racial, color, and language-minority groups have an equal opportunity to participate in the political processes of the State of New York, especially to exercise the elective franchise. See N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-200. To ensure that the right to vote is not denied or abridged on account of membership in a race, color, or language-minority group, the NYVRA requires that certain types of voting- or election-related changes (“covered policies”), when made by certain jurisdictions (“covered entities”), be precleared by the Office of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau (the “CRB”) or by a designated court before the changes can be enacted or implemented. See N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-210. The NYVRA further authorizes the CRB to promulgate rules to effectuate the preclearance requirement, which may include, but need not be limited to, rules for an expedited, emergency preclearance process in the event of a disaster or exigent circumstances, and rules designating additional types of voting- or election-related changes for preclearance coverage beyond those enumerated in the statute. See N.Y. Elec. Law §§ 17-210(2)(l), 17-210(4)(f)(iv), 17-210(7). 

Pursuant to the authority granted by the NYVRA, the CRB is proposing a rule for public comment, accompanied by a regulatory flexibility analysis pursuant to section 202-b of the State Administrative Procedure Act. The proposed rule affects local governments, which may be subject to preclearance requirements, but not small businesses. To the extent that local governments may incur costs associated with preclearance under the NYVRA, such costs are imposed not by this rule, but by the requirements set forth in the statute. However, in the interest of providing maximum transparency and guidance, the CRB provides an estimated range of compliance and professional costs that some local governments may incur in this analysis. 

To estimate the potential costs associated with preclearance, the CRB analyzed wage data for occupations representing an approximation of the types of staff roles that may be involved at various points of the process of preparing a preclearance submission, and estimated an approximate range of hours that might be spent by employees within those occupations on preparing and submitting a covered policy for preclearance. A more detailed description of this methodology is included in the analysis. 

For several reasons, it is likely that the high end of the range identified by the CRB far exceeds the amount that most jurisdictions can expect to spend for any given submission. First, in most instances, covered entities will be requesting preclearance for comparatively simple and routine changes (e.g., moving poll sites), rather than rarer, more complicated ones (e.g., form of government changes). In addition, jurisdictions with less fluctuation in their election procedures will likely need to submit fewer preclearance requests than jurisdictions with more fluctuation. Moreover, because limitations in data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2023 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (“OEWS”) precluded the CRB from isolating New York public sector wage estimates for the selected occupations, the wage estimates included in this analysis were calculated with data collected from both public and private sector employers. These figures likely exceed those associated with government wages of local jurisdictions, as private sector wages are typically higher than government wages and may inflate the estimates. Similarly, OEWS statewide data includes wage data for New York City, which skews higher than wages in other parts of the state, likely further inflating the estimates. 

The analysis also includes information regarding compliance requirements, professional services, economic and technical feasibility, minimizing adverse impacts, and local government participation.