NYS Assembly Passes Pro-Voter Legislative Package—Time for the State Senate to Prioritize Voting Rights for all New Yorkers

The NYS Assembly passed several voting reform bills this week that would modernize New York elections and make voting more convenient for millions of busy New Yorkers—but only if the State Senate leadership is compelled to prioritize fundamental voting rights before the end of the 2017 Legislative Session in June. Join NYDLC's 2017 New York State Pro-Voter Call to Action today to get involved.

For Immediate Release, May 21, 2017
Contact: (866) NYDLC-01; [email protected]

The New York State Assembly passed a voting reform package this week, including several top priorities that are components of NYDLC's 2017 Pro-Voter Legislative Agenda. If passed by the NYS Senate and enacted, these reforms would begin to chip away at New York's antiquated election law, modernizing the way we vote and reducing barriers to participation in our democracy by making registration and voting more seamless and convenient.

The voting reform package coincides with NYDLC's annual Albany Advocacy Day and the launch of NYDLC's 2017 New York State Pro-Voter Call to Action, which invites New Yorkers young and old, upstate and downstate, who care about improving access to core civil rights like voting to take a stand and insist that the New York State Senate finally prioritize and embrace several election modernization proposals that constituents, grassroots groups, and good government advocates have sought for years. NYDLC encourages all New Yorkers to contact their State Senators and ask them to sponsor, prioritize, and pass NYDLC's full 2017 Pro-Voter Legislative Agenda.

[Click here to access 1-page memos in support of each bill in NYDLC's agenda]

NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that the bills passed by the assembly included "measures to reduce registration burdens and increases voting opportunities so that everyone can make their voice heard." 

Election Law Committee Chair Michael Cusick said in a statement: "Voting is one of the greatest civic responsibilities we hold as citizens and therefore, as legislators, we have a responsibility to protect and expand access to the ballot[.] This legislation will ensure that voters are able to more effectively participate in the electoral process, and in turn, allow the government to better serve people." 

NYDLC Executive Director Jarret Berg said: "At a time when the public trust has been shaken by threats to the rule of law from Washington and while several states pass restrictive voting laws and participation in our elections remain stubbornly at historic lows, it is heartening that New York's Assembly hears the loud and sustained cries for voting reform. What is needed now in the State Senate is a public accounting—an up or down vote on improving access to the ballot. New Yorkers are entitled to know precisely where each member of that body stands on this foundational question.

NYDLC Legislative Affairs Committee Co-Chair Sarah Friedman said: "New York remains far behind most of the country when it comes to protecting the fundamental right to vote. While comprehensive electoral reform is still necessary, the Assembly's efforts today are an important step in the right direction. We urge the Senate to continue this progress, and help make New York a leader for its citizens by  passing critical pro-voter reforms in this legislative session."

The measures passed by the Assembly this week included:

  • Early Voting: Provides New Yorkers with an opportunity to vote for seven days before any election. (A2064, Kavanagh)
  • Registration Portability: Automatically transfers a voter's registration when they move within NYS (A3411 Kavanagh)
  • No-Excuse Absentee Voting: Allows all New York voters to have the option of voting absentee (A7623, Vanel)
  • Combining federal non-presidential and state primaries to both be held in June (A3052, Cusick)
  • Allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 for a presidential election to vote in the primary (A3549, Cusick)
  • Online voter registration (A5382, Cusick)
  • Automatic registration at state and local agencies including DOCCS (A6283, Walker)
  • Allow BOEs to split Election Day shifts (A6907A, Hunter)
  • Extend NYC's runoff election by one week (A7745, Carroll).

Founded in 2005, the New York Democratic Lawyers Council (NYDLC) is a coalition of lawyers and voting rights advocates dedicated to fostering universal participation and trust in the electoral process by ensuring that all eligible persons can register to vote easily; all registered voters are able to vote conveniently, fairly, without intimidation; and, that all votes are counted accurately by open and reliable voting systems.

 NYDLC's election monitoring, pro-voter advocacy, and community voter education/civic engagement efforts have been independently funded by a dedicated network of supporters who cherish the franchise and understand that the struggle for voting rights continues even today and that these core civil rights are always are at risk of political manipulation. Help us continue our work: Contribute to NYDLC today.

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