NEW YORK, NY (06/13/2017) (readMedia)-- Zephyr Teachout + Activists Rally for Easy Elections, Call on Cuomo to End Voter Suppression
Early Voting, Automatic Voter Registration, Electronic Poll-books, Parole Voting
Activists from across the state rallied together in Albany to demand that New York update it's antiquated elections and end the endless cycle of voter frustration. Joined by leading government reform advocate and anti-corruption expert, Zephyr Teachout, the Easy Elections coalition called on the State Senate to pass early voting, automatic voter registration, electronic poll-books, and parole voting before the end of the legislative session on June 21st, 2017. Existing bills are tied up in committee.
37 states already have some form of Early Voting, leaving New York as one of only 13 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. 16 states allow post-incarceration voting, which fosters re-entry through civic participation and is easier to administer. Outdated elections is in part why only 29 percent of the state's eligible population voted in 2014, putting New York in the bottom third nationally.
"New York State ranks in the bottom third for voter turn-out not because we don't want to exercise our rights but because Albany won't let us. Elections should be easy. It's time to take power back from the politicians and restore it to the people where it belongs," said Zephyr Teachout.
"Protecting the rights of voters must be a priority for all levels of government. We mustnever tolerate any form of voter discrimination or efforts to undermine a person's right to vote because an individual's vote is too important to the principles of our democracy," said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-55).
"Finding time to get to the polls on Election Day is hard for me," said Shareeka Elliott, a terminal cleaner at JFK and a member of 32BJ SEIU. "My daughters are 8 and 10 years old and every morning I wake up early to get them ready for school. After they are in school, I'm in a rush to get myself ready for work and out to JFK in time for my 2pm-10pm shift," I want early voting so that I have a few extra days-and ideally a weekend day-to be able to cast my vote. That would make a huge difference for me and so many other New Yorkers."
"New Yorkers deserve the same access to Early Voting and Automatic Voter Registration as Americans in 37 other states and the District of Columbia. We demand that lawmakers pass reforms to protect voters rather than suppress them with long lines, antiquated technology, and needless red tape. It's time to make elections easy in New York State," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
"Even though New York prides itself as a progressive state, our voting procedures are stuck in the 20th century. The Governor loves to tout progressive policies like free college tuition, but fails to put the weight of his office behind reforming New York's outdated voting systems. The legislature must act and pass voting reforms to make voting easier and more accessible. The public has spoken: early voting, automatic voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and electronic poll books are crucial to modernizing our voting systems and empowering voters to cast their ballot," said Dare Thompson, President, League of Women Voters of NYS
"There exists the basic democratic principle that all in a democracy have the right to vote. There is no rational reason to deny that right to those with a felony conviction. In so doing, Blacks in America are disproportionately burdened, disenfranchised, and denied the equal protection of the law," said Dr. Alice Green, Executive Director for Center for Law and Justice in Albany.
Out of 50 states, New York ranks 41st in voter turnout. The reason for this is simple; New York's election laws are failing us, said Jamaica Miles, Organizer at Citizen Action of New York. Unless we reform the system, the state will continue to see the same results. That's why I'm here today to demand our leaders support this simple package of bills which would make it significantly easier for working people to vote, and increase civic engagement in New York State.
The Easy Elections Day of Action was organized by Common Cause/NY, 32 BJ, Citizen Action-NY, VOCAL NY, Center for Law & Justice, Transit Workers Union (TWU), the League of Women Voters, NY4Democracy, NY Civic Engagement Table, and Public Citizen. The day was part of a series of ongoing grassroots efforts to put pressure on the Legislature to reform New York's outdated elections.