Common Cause/NY Applauds State Senate's Bipartisan Passage of Election Reforms

Watchdog Group Says: "These common sense reforms will remove unnecessary impediments to voting"

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NEW YORK, NY (04/14/2010)(readMedia)-- In recognition that the NY State Senate passed an election reforms package with bipartisan support this afternoon, Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner issued the following statement:

"Common Cause/NY applauds the Senate for passing these long overdue election reforms. They remove unnecessary impediments and inconveniences that make it harder for New Yorkers to be able to vote and help streamline election and campaign procedures. As long-time supporters of no-excuse absentee voting, we are particularly pleased by the passage of S2868B (Addabbo), which simplifies the absentee ballot application process. That bill has already passed the Assembly and we look forward to celebrating its signing into law."

The following are the bills that passed, with the vote numbers indicated in bold:

• S4960B/ Krueger, allows voters to request an absentee ballot by fax for the first time ever (similar passed Assembly in 2009) 40-22

• S2868B/ Addabbo, simplifies the absentee ballot application process through shortening the actual application and eliminating private and superfluous requirements (passed Assembly in 2010) 35-27

• S5988/ Klein, provides for a dual affidavit ballot, voter registration and change of enrollment form (passed Assembly in 2010) 42-20

• S3252/ Addabbo, includes a space for email address on voter registration forms (passed Senate in 2009) 62-0

• S6910/ Addabbo, promotes administrative efficiency by allowing the Board of Elections to determine how changes to mailing addresses are made (Departmental, similar to an Assembly bill) 62-0

A 5276B, the same as bill for S2868B, passed the Assembly on January 20. A 4015-A , the same as bill for S5988 passed the Assembly on March 8. Both of these bills now go to the Governor for signature.

S2868B/A5276B will remove the unnecessary and intrusive questions which voters who seek an absentee ballot now have to answer, facilitating the application process for those who need an absentee ballot while removing information that is private and should not be on the public record. S5988/A4015A adopts a common sense solution to a persistent problem. This bill would combine what is now a burdensome 2- step process that forces voters who fill out affidavit ballots who are not actually registered to later fill out and file an entirely new form in order to register into one, streamlined and more efficient form.

A 4313, the same as for S3252, has not yet passed the Assembly. The bill would require Boards of Elections to provide a space on registration forms where voters can, at their own option, provide an email address for notices regarding elections and registration. We hope that the Assembly will now quickly pass this bill, which helps bring out election procedures into the 21st Century.

We at Common Cause/NY have advocated for these reforms over several sessions. We are delighted to see bipartisan progress towards modernizing our election system and bringing us closer to the ideal of full civic participation and high voter engagement and turn-out.

Executive Director Susan Lerner can be reached via her mobile phone at (917) 670-5670.