For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Contact: (866) NYDLC-01; [email protected]
NYDLC Executive Director Jarret Berg and Elizabeth Robins, President of the Cardozo Law School Democrats (CLD) presented joint testimony yesterday to the NYC Campaign Finance Board’s Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC) about much-needed reforms to reduce barriers to voter participation. The Committee sought input on voter-related issues arising out of the April 19th New York Presidential Primary, as well as the efforts of the NYC Votes Albany Voter Day and #VoteBetterNY coalition's push for modernization (Read the full NYDLC-CLD testimony by clicking here).
NYDLC and CLD proposed several commonsense pro-voter reforms that, if enacted, would reduce barriers to participation so that all eligible New Yorkers can exercise their right to vote. “New York’s outdated registration and administration systems need to be redesigned for the modern age. As one state after another embraces modernization best-practices, New York is being left in the dust and our citizens are paying the price” said NYDLC Executive Director Jarret Berg, in regard to Tuesday's hearing.
Reform proposals included online voter registration, registration status tracking for electronic and paper systems, automatic voter registration, registration portability, early voting, a registration "Golden week" to cure registration defects, and no-fault absentee (universal vote-by-mail) voting. "New York law should provide a convenient voter registration process with safeguards to protect against errors and omissions, so that no student who registers to vote is disenfranchised", said CLD President Elizabeth Robins after the hearing.
The NYC Campaign Finance Board’s VAAC holds annual hearings to give attention to challenges that New Yorkers experience at the polls. This year, attendees raised questions about New York's closed primary system and the highly-publicized reports of mass purges to the voter rolls in Brooklyn and other parts of the city. “Administrators and policymakers of all stripes need to internalize the ethos that voting is a core civil right. Due process is a safeguard, not an inconvenience,” Berg said.
The hearing also highlighted the experiences of those who advocated for election reform in Albany during Voter Day, an event NYDLC promoted and publicized widely across its network, and the success of pro-voter initiatives like Student Voter Registration Day and social media campaigns like #VoteBetterNY.
NYDLC and CLD also offered feedback on the work of NYC Votes, as detailed in the 2015-2016 Voter Assistance Annual Report. Testimony included commentary on a “CFB case study” detailed in the report that recommended changes to the Board of Elections’ existing practice of purging so-called inactive voters, which may be partly to blame for mass purges that occurred prior to the New York Presidential Primary. Read the full NYDLC-CLD testimony by clicking here.