Click below to access one-pagers in support of each bill in
NYDLC's Comprehensive New York State Pro-Voter Legislative Agenda
(or view pdf)
The New York Democratic Lawyers Council strongly supports the enactment of legislation to modernize our voter registration system and improve voter access. At each step in the election process, New York’s outdated voting laws discourage participation. As a result, nearly 2 million eligible New Yorkers are not even registered, and New York consistently ranks near the bottom in turnout (41st in 2016).
We need to overhaul the way New York votes to better suit our busy lives and provide New Yorkers with a reasonable opportunity to exercise their fundamental civil rights.
Legislation to Reduce Barriers to Participation:
Modernize and Streamline Voter Registration
~ Voter Empowerment Act of NY S3304A (Gianaris) Streamlines registration by enacting: (1) automatic registration for eligible consenting NYers who interact with government agencies; (2) “portability”, so registration transfers across counties when a voter moves; (3) pre-registration of 16- and 17-yearolds in high school; (4) later deadlines—allow registration until the NYS Constitutional minimum of ten days and party enrollment changes until 25 days before an election; (5) online registration; 6) safeguards for voters’ personal info; 7) improved affidavit ballots to protect voting rights; and, 8) requirement that schools/colleges provide registration.
~ Youth Pre–Registration A9609 (Lavine) / S1661 (Carlucci) Permits pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds. At age 18, residency is verified before new voters are added to the rolls, reducing hurdles to participation.
~ Registration Portability when Voters Move A9826 (Dinowitz) / S1732A (Carlucci) Keeps voters on the rolls when they move within NYS by automatically transferring registration to the voter’s new county or city Board of Elections.
~ Online Voter Registration A5382A (Cusick) / S5115A (Avella) Modernizes our paper-based registration by allowing NYers to apply online including an electronic signature, which the AG has said is valid under NY law.
~ Electronic Poll Books A5547 (Cusick) / S2788 (Akshar) Modernizes and improves elections by allowing poll workers to check-in voters at their poll site using a laptop or tablet, saving time, resources, and improving accuracy.
~ Same-Day Registration and Voting A10420 (Lavine) / S2478A (Gianaris) [Const. amendment] Provides busy NYers with a one-stop registration and voting option at polling places on Election Day, improving access to participation, safeguarding civil rights, and curing clerical errors. This also includes a companion statutory bill S3235 (Gianaris) or S7005 (Kennedy)
~ New York Votes Act A5312 (Cusick) This Bill comprehensively overhauls NYS voter registration and elections! Highlights: (1) Automatic and same-day registration, in-state portability, later registration deadline (10 days; shorter enrollment change deadline (120 days)); (2) Improves voting process (e.g. early voting including weekends, no excuse absentee ballots and online requests), and (3) Removing barriers to voting (language accessibility, parolee voting, anti-suppression safeguards to ensure only good-faith challenges and oversight to third-party mail-checks); 4) Professionalized, required training for local election administrators and broader poll worker recruitment; 5) consolidates state/fed primaries; 6) State reimbursement of local costs for early voting and language access.
Legislation to Improve Access to the Ballot:
Reasonable Opportunities to Exercise Fundamental Rights
~ Early Voting A9608 (Lavine) / S7400A (Kavanagh)** Provides busy NYers with an opportunity to vote early during seven days before any election. Counties must provide at least one early vote site per fifty thousand voters, and are reimbursed by the State. **These are similar bills but not "same as". Material distinctions (including from the Executive budget proposal) are noted.
~ No-Excuse Absentee Voting A7623 (Vanel) / S840 (Comrie) Expands convenient absentee voting to all NYers so they can vote by mail or in-person ahead of Election Day. Today, only voters who meet limited criteria are eligible.
Legislation to Prevent Voter Suppression and Ensure Due Process
~ Deceptive Practices and Voter Suppression Act S2952 (Stewart-Cousins). Defines and penalizes deceptive election practices and intimidating voter suppression conduct that undermines our democracy. Inspired by real events (NYDN).
~ AG Pre-Clearance of Voting Regs & Policies A5925 (Walker) / S6164 (Hamilton) Inspired by the oversight protections of the Federal Voting Rights Act, any changes to voting regs in qualifying counties must first be approved by NYS Attorney General.
~ Universal Attorney Poll Watchers A4984 (Weprin) / S3405 (Parker) Permits NYS licensed resident attorneys, who are already subject to statewide ethics oversight, to monitor the polls for misconduct as watchers in any New York locality.
~ Parolee Voting Rights Restoration A5367 (O'Donnell) / S960 (Comrie) Automatically restores the fundamental right to vote to Americans who have already served their time in prison and are released on parole.