Friday, February 10, 2017

Dueling Voting Reform Packages

This week the League was very pleased to see two major pushes for voting reforms – one from Senate Democrats and a second from the Attorney General.

On Monday we stood with the Senate Democratic Conference as they announced their package of voting reform bills. The package includes many reforms that the League has long supported including early voting, consolidation of primaries, automatic voter registration, and ballot reform. You can read more about the proposed legislation here. We were very happy to see the conference roll out this package but we will need to work extremely hard to get Senate Republicans on board with these bills.

Tuesday morning we attended the annual budget briefing given by Fiscal Policy Institute.  It is an informative session that both advocates and legislators attend.  The questions for the FPI staff Economists centered around the probable Federal cuts and their impact on New York's budget. The Taxation budget hearing held that same day was interesting this year for two reasons.  The hearing was interrupted twice by protesters, which has never before. Assemblyman Farrell tried strenuously to get them to leave, finally Troopers came in and the protesters left.  The questions centered again on the impact of possible congressional cuts to the state budget.  

On Wednesday the Attorney General unveiled his own voting reforms package.  The AG’s list of proposals was quite a bit longer and more comprehensive than the reforms put forward by the Democratic Conference. His reforms were motivated by the massive issues New York Voters faced on Election Day 2016. The reforms would not only empower voters by instituting common sense reforms such as early voting and no-excuse absentee voting; but would also protect voters from unfair treatment on Election Day through enhanced poll worker training and protections against improper ballot challenges. Our Vice President of Issues and Advocacy, Sally Robinson, spoke at the press conference. You can see his full proposal package here

We are so pleased to see a renewed passion for election law reforms from our elected officials. The League has fought for decades – nearly a century – to repair our broken election system.  As we move closer to the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and our own 100th anniversary, we are even more impassioned to fight for these reforms. This legislative session we will do everything in our power to see that voting is not put on the back burner by our legislature or our governor! We will pass these common sense reforms! 

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