A Voting Reform Agenda for New York

Prepared by Katherine Garrity

09/01/2019

As the 2019 – 2020 legislative session begins, voting reform to make it easier for all eligible New Yorkers to participate in elections needs to be a top priority for the state legislature. New York is the is the fourth largest state in the nation, and a single 15-hour voting period using a paper-based system is no longer enough to serve our large and diverse electorate. We have identified a list of voting reform priorities for the 2019-2020 legislative session in this report.

These voting reforms fall into three categories. The first category refers to voting reforms that would make an immediate impact on the voter registration and election administration processes, and once election law is changed, these reforms could be implemented right away. The second category is for short-term reforms that need to pass in the next session to be implemented before the 2020 presidential election. Finally, the third category contains two reforms that would need to be enacted through a constitutional amendment, and these reforms would take a minimum of three years to pass into law.

A full list of reforms is below.  It is time for New York to become a national leader in voting reform and provide all eligible citizens with the opportunity to register and vote without barriers to participation. We urge the state legislature to pass these important reforms during the 2019 – 2020 legislative session to ensure all New Yorkers have an equal opportunity to participate in our democracy.

Reforms with immediate impact

  • Restore voting rights to parolees
  • Preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds
  • Electronic signatures
  • Electronic poll books
  • Voter Friendly Ballot Act
  • Split shifts for poll workers

Short-term reforms

  • Early voting
  • Automatic voter registration
  • Portable voter registration
  • Changing the party enrollment deadline
  • Combined primaries
  • Translation services beyond the Voting Rights Act

Long term reforms

  • No-excuse absentee voting
  • Same-day registration