Which state has one of the worst records for voting access?
You might assume it is a red state, but it’s actually New York. Yes, it’s true. To wit, The Atlantic wrote an article this past fall called New York’s Worst-in-the-Country Voting System. Yikes.
The inefficiencies, barriers and confusion contributed to one of the worst turnout rates in the country. As only one example, New York has TWO primary dates–one for federal offices and one for state offices. How many voters do you think show up at both elections? Bad voting systems lead to disenfranchisement, which is why we need to improve them.
On that front, there is very good news.
Earlier this week, the New York legislature passed a series of bills that fix a lot of their voter access problems. They include:
✦ Early voting: Now NY will have a 10 day early voting period prior to an election
✦ Registration: The state will now automatically update voters’ registrations when they move within the state (instead of forcing voters to do it themselves)
✦ Pre-registration: 16 and 17 year olds are now allowed to pre-register so they automatically show up on voter rolls when they turn 18
✦ Consolidation: NY will consolidate their primary election schedule so both federal and state elections happen on the same day
✦ Campaign finance: NY closed a loophole that allowed certain types of corporations to give unlimited donations to candidates
Additionally, the legislature passed 2 constitutional amendments that will allow New Yorkers to register on Election Day and cast an absentee ballot without an excuse. Because these are amendments, they need to pass the legislature a second time (in 2020) and then can go to voters to approve in the form of a referendum.
File under “Elections have consequences”: The reason this happened is because in the 2018 midterms, New Yorkers flipped enough seats in the state Senate to give the Democrats full control of that chamber, and consequently, the entire state government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has signaled that he will sign the bills.
If you’re a voter in New York, you might thank your state legislators for passing these reforms. It’s important to let them know when you approve of the work they are doing!