NEW YORK, NY (03/22/2017) (readMedia)-- Yesterday, Governor Cuomo made comments indicating that Early Voting and Automatic Voter Registration may not be in the state budget:
""We're going to try like heck," said Cuomo, "it's not necessarily a budget discussion...many of the democracy issues you talk about we're going to take up after the budget.""
In response, Common Cause/NY and others delivered over 2,000 petitions and 200 postcards to his New York City office, demanding that the Governor fund voting reforms in the budget.
Petition signatures were organized and delivered by Common Cause/NY, SEIU 32BJ, 2 Hours A Week, New York Working Families Party, and the NY Civic Engagement table, among other civic and advocacy organizations.
"New York ranks 41st in the nation for voter turnout, with less than a third of eligible voters participating," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "Far from the progressive symbol the Governor likes to tout, we are out of step with 34 other states that have some form of Early Voting, and nowhere near California, which also has Automatic Voter Registration. It's not enough to "try like heck," New Yorkers deserve the same rights as voters in Alaska and Vermont. We need voting reform now, and that means including funding in the 2017 budget to ensure that the next election cycle is an example for the nation, not a national embarrassment."
On Sunday, hundreds of people attended the "Rally to Resist Voter Suppression," co-sponsored by Common Cause/NY, SEIU 32BJ, NY Immigration Coalition, NYCLU, NY Civic Engagement Table, TWU 100, Hispanic Federation, 2 hours A Week, Public Citizen, Citizen Action New York, Citizens Union, NYC Votes, New York Working Families, DuBois Bunche Center For Public Policy, Hugh L. Carey Institute, NYPIRG, Community Voices Heard, Women's City Club, Make the Road NY, NCAACP Brooklyn Chapter, Daily Kos, VOCAL, and the NY Progressive Action Network.
Congressman Jerry Nadler, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer among others spoke about the importance of modernizing our elections especially in response to national efforts to strip voting rights.
You can watch the rally here.
Enacting Early Voting would allow New Yorkers to cast their ballot at polling locations before the traditional Election Day. 34 states already have some form of Early Voting, leaving New York as one of only 16 states without any means to vote early except via absentee ballot. New York does not have any form of Automatic Voter Registration either. Automatically registering eligible voters encourages civic participation, and provides a vehicle for state agencies to efficiently transfer voter registration information to the Board of Elections. Outdated elections is in part why only 29 percent of the state's eligible population voted in 2014, putting New York in the bottom third nationally.