Albany Times Union, April 8th
For many voting rights advocates and election observers, the article “Voter turnout among worst,” March 20, reporting New York’s abysmal voter turnout record in the 2014 midterm elections – ranking 49th out of all states and D.C., ahead of only Texas and Indiana – comes as no surprise.
As the Nonprofit VOTE study revealed, New York’s voter turnout percentage lagged behind the 13 states that currently permit election day voter registration; those states saw an average of 12 percent higher voter turnout. What’s more, unlike 33 other states and the District of Columbia, New York has no early voting option for eligible voters and, unlike 27 other states, New York requires voters to provide an excuse in order to obtain an absentee ballot.
New York’s election system is broken and utterly fails to provide eligible voters with sufficient opportunities to cast their ballots. For years, the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, a coalition of lawyers dedicated to fostering universal participation and trust in the electoral process, has urged the New York state Legislature to pass a wave of election reforms including adopting early voting measures, no-fault absentee ballot legislation, youth pre-registration, less restrictive poll watcher eligibility laws, and the Voter Friendly Ballot Act (A3389) sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan.
Until New York enacts such common-sense reforms, many of which have already been adopted by other states, New York’s voter turnout will continue to remain alarmingly low, to the great disservice to its citizens.
Adam L. Shpeen