Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ranking NY Electoral Reforms that Makes the Biggest Difference

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a series of proposals for Reforming New York’s outdated Election Laws in his State of the State Agenda. While many of Cuomo’s Proposals respond to Russian Hacking efforts in the 2016 Election with measures to beef up Cybersecurity and Improve Transparency in Online Political Advertising, Cuomo also threw his support behind a Laundry List of Policies that could boost New York’s Voter Turnout: Same-Day Voter Registration, Automatic Voter Registration, and Early Voting.

Electoral Reform in the Empire State is long overdue. It is remarkably difficult to Vote in New York, where Elections are Restricted to hours that overlap almost precisely with a Standard Workday. That disenfranchises many Workers with long shifts, such as Cab Drivers and Home Health Aides, and Single Parents who must go directly home from Work to care for their Children. Where 2,429,021 Active Independent Voters, called Blanks, can't vote in this Closed Primary State.

New York’s nominal solution for those who cannot Vote on Election Day is Voting by Absentee Ballot, but New York doesn't have No-Excuse Absentee Ballots. You have to know you will not be in the State on Election Day, will be Sick or in the Hospital. For those that can receive an Absentee Ballot in New York City cannot be sure their Absentee Ballot will be delivered before the Election. New York also has among the earliest Deadlines for People to Register to Vote or Change their Party Registration before an Election. All of these Impediments take a Toll on Turnout. New York State’s was the 11th-Lowest Turnout in 2016.

If Gov. Cuomo and the State Legislature want to Expand Voting Access and enable more Participation, some Reforms will work better than others, Voting Rights Experts said. And History suggests that not all of the Ideas will make it into Law any time soon. Based on what Experts said Data has shown in other States, here is a Ranking of potential Reforms, from Most to Least effective, at Increasing the Size and Diversity of the Electorate.

Election Day Registration

Being able to show up at a Polling Place on Election Day, Register, and Vote is the Single most Effective means of Boosting Turnout, according to Experts. Professors from New York University and American University have found that Election Day Registration leads to a 3 Percentage Point increase in Turnout, on Average. Students are just one group that may move frequently, and so do other young People and Poor People. In New York, there is no way to Legally Vote if you happen to move between the Registration Deadline and Election Day.

Anyone who Moves between Elections and neglects to Update their Registration to their Current Address is unable to Vote. “Same-day registration is the one reform that’s consistently proven to have an impact on turnout,” said Tova Wang, Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos, a Nonpartisan, New York City-based Think Tank. “People are highly mobile, especially certain groups, and the deadlines are ridiculously early in a lot of states. There are people who don’t know there are deadlines or don’t know they have to register.” A 2015 Study found that many Americans did Internet Searches on how to Register to Vote after their State Deadline had passed.

Automatic Voter Registration

The precise details can vary by State, but Automatic Voter Registration means that any time a Person interacts with a State Agency, and presents Evidence that they are Eligible to Vote, that Person is Automatically Registered to Vote. That means if you bring your Social Security Card when you get your Driver’s License, you will be Registered to Vote. Oregon was the First State to adopt Automatic Voter Registration in 2015, and the Results have been impressive. Turnout in 2016 was the State’s Highest ever at 70.4% of Eligible Voters, compared to New York’s 57.3%, and 44% of Oregonians who were Registered Automatically actually Voted.

It was especially effective at turning out Underrepresented Groups. Eligible Youth Voter Turnout rose by 7 Percentage Points, a bigger increase than among the overall Electorate. The State also skyrocketed in One Year from only 53% Registration among People of Color, ranking 31st in the Nation, up to 79%, the Nation’s Second-Highest rate. From 2012 to 2016, Latino turnout went up 5% in Oregon and Asian-American turnout increased 17%. “We’ve seen potentially transformative effects among young people and people of color,” said Henry Kraemer, National Campaigns Director for Alliance for Youth Action, a Youth Empowerment Advocacy Organization. “Automatic voter registration has really tremendous potential to increase representation of people whose voices haven’t been heard,” he said.

Early Voting, Vote-by-Mail or No-Excuse Absentee Ballots

Early Voting allows People to stop by a Polling Place in the week(s) leading up to Election Day, while Vote-by-Mail allows them to skip the Polling Place altogether. The former has been widely adopted, while the latter is only used in Three Western States: Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Anything that Reduces the need to appear In-Person on Election Day could increase participation. Although Experts said that a significant effect on Turnout is not fully established, and that it will not have as large of an impact as Same-Day Registration, it can’t hurt and may help quite a bit. A New Study cited in The Washington Post found that Vote-by-Mail increased turnout by 3.3 Percentage Points in Colorado in 2014.

Early Voting became more widely adopted during George W. Bush’s Presidency, partly in response to the 2000 debacle in Florida. This, combined with the Obama Campaign’s Outreach efforts in 2008, led to enormous Increases in Latino Turnout in the Southwest. “Between 2004 and 2008, the share of the Latino vote went from 8 percent to 13 percent in Colorado, 10 percent to 15 percent in Nevada and from 32 to 41 percent in New Mexico,” said Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN, a Center-Left Think Tank that specializes in Engaging with emerging Demographic Groups, such as Latinos and Millennials.

“One of the reasons Republicans have been attacking early voting so savagely is because of that success,” Rosenberg added, referring to efforts in recent years by Republican Legislatures in States like North Carolina and Ohio to scale back Early Voting. Same-Day Registration doesn’t eliminate the need to show up in Person on Election Day to cast a Ballot, which is a problem for many people. “If you have a manual labor job, you don’t know if you’ll be able to get off on Election Day,” Rosenberg said. “Construction workers and nurses don’t necessarily have the flexibility to vote on Election Day.” Voting-by-Mail has proven Effective at Increasing Turnout only among Voters who are already Registered, so its impact is bigger when combined with Automatic Voter Registration, hence, the impressive Turnout in Oregon, which uses Vote-by-Mail.

Create Voting Centers

This is a twofer because it helps both People who don’t know where to go and those who aren’t near their Polling Place during Voting Hours. In dense Urban areas, where Election Districts are closely sandwiched together, it can be confusing to know where to Vote, especially after Moving. By creating some Centralized Polling Centers where anyone from within the City or County can Cast a Ballot, it ameliorates that problem. It also helps People who are at Work or away from Home during the day. Research shows a lot of the reason People don’t Vote is Inconvenience. To make this work, you will need a Ballot Printing On-Demand system and verification you are Eligible to Vote in that Election District and haven't Voted already. This option won't work in an Unconnected Online system. Maybe checking the Time of the Vote, and taking the latest Time will work.

Lengthen Polling Hours

In much of New York State, Polls are Open from Noon to 9pm for Primaries, but the Hours vary County to County. That’s hardly conducive to Maximizing Turnout. Why not Open at 6am like in the New York City Region? And why not keep the Polls Open until 10pm or 11pm? The impact might be Statistically insignificant, but so were the 537 Votes separating Bush and Al Gore in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election.

Increase the Number of Polling Machines and Improve Training for Poll Workers

Long Lines caused by Broken or too Few Voting Machines and Chaos caused by Poll Worker Errors breaks out in every Election, especially in New York City. The hours-long Waits can lead potential Voters to give up and leave as well as Discourage them from Voting in the Future. A Law requiring a certain Number of Machines per Precinct, with enough to serve as a Backup in Case one Fails, would help. Since it’s impossible to quantify the Number of Voters who are turned off by Long Lines, however, there is not good Data on how much difference this would make.

Now lets tackle Independent Voters. I want to select my candidates, but not because of the Party they represent. So an Open Primary will not work for me. I need a Ballot with all the Candidates on one Ballot, but I would like to see Top-XXX Primaries, maybe Top-Three or all Candidates who get 25%, so maybe Top-Four, and it would use Ranked-Choice Voting, so there is no need for a Run-Off Election. But in New York, Party Elections are also on the Primary Ballot. So New York would have to print different Ballots. One for Registered Party Members for each Party running a Primary and One without Party Elections for Independents. Not that simple and costly.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

No comments: