NYC Votes Report Urges Immediate Action On Election Reform

10/01/2019

As state legislators convene in Albany for the 2019-2020 legislative session, NYC Votes is releasing a comprehensive report on statewide election reforms, many of which need to pass in the current session if they are to take effect before the 2020 presidential election. 

The report, “A Voting Reform Agenda for New York,” provides a roadmap for moving the state from “Voter Suppression Land,” as The New York Times recently called it, to administering elections that are modern, efficient, accessible, and that protect the right to vote for all eligible New Yorkers.

New York trails behind the rest of the country in election administration, ranking 42nd for overall election performance, according to the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. NYC Votes finds that the current single-day, 15-hour voting period fails to meet the needs of a highly diverse electorate in the fourth largest state in the nation.

In its new report, NYC Votes identifies a list of voting reform priorities for the 2019-2020 legislative session intended to make it easier for New Yorkers to have their voices heard in each election. Several of the recommended reforms are required to pass in the current session if they are going to take effect before next year's presidential election.

"State legislators are under a serious time crunch to get meaningful election reforms passed in time for the presidential election in 2020, when we expect voter participation to reach an all-time high," said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the NYC Campaign Finance Board, which oversees NYC Votes. "Long lines, broken machines, and other barriers to voting will only worsen if legislators do not act. Our new report outlines a clear path to advancing the rights of voters across the state and from all walks of life."

The report outlines both the practical effects and policy rationale for 14 specific legislative changes that would transform New York into a leader in election reform. Several of the changes would have immediate impacts on the voter registration and election administration processes should they pass.

Reforms that could take effect immediately include: restoring voting rights to parolees, providing preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, permitting electronic signatures and electronic poll books, the Voter Friendly Ballot Act, and splitting day-long shifts for poll workers. Once these election laws are changed, as the report explains, they could be implemented right away.

Secondly, the report outlines farther-reaching proposals that may be implemented in time for the 2020 presidential election, should they pass in the current legislative session. Such reforms include: early voting, automatic voter registration, portable voter registration, changing the party enrollment deadline, combining state and federal primaries, and providing translation services that go beyond the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.

Lastly, there are two election reforms included in the reportno-excuse absentee voting, and same-day voter registrationthat need to be enacted through a state constitutional amendment, requiring a minimum of three years to pass into law. The report further explains the specific circumstances for each of these timelines and describes the rational behind their recommendation.

NYC Votes has published the report on the NYC Campaign Finance Board website, in addition to emailing the report to state legislators in Albany on Wednesday. Any members of the media interested in speaking about the report should send their questions to press@nyccfb.info.

NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). In addition to promoting voter registration, participation, and civic engagement in New York City through its many NYC Votes programs and partnerships, the CFB sponsors the city’s official Debate Program and produces the citywide Voter Guide.
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