Saturday, May 19, 2018

Why Don’t More New Yorkers Vote?

A Snapshot Identifying Low Voter Turnout, detailed a Survey conducted with New Yorkers who did not participate in the 2016 General Election despite being Eligible to Vote. The survey highlighted potential causes for New York’s dismal record on Voting Participation, ranking 41st in the Nation following the 2016 General Election.

CLICK HERE To view the Full Report and Survey.

Key findings from the Survey include:

• 79% of Respondents said they would be more likely to Vote in an Election if Early Voting was Enacted.
• 76% of Respondents said they would be more likely to Vote in an Election if No-Excuse Absentee Voting was Enacted.
• 81% of Respondents who Live in Counties with Voting hours from 12:00–9:00 PM on Primary Day said they would be more likely to Vote in an Election if Voting Hours were extended to 6:00 AM–9:00 PM.
• 28% of Respondents said they have Missed an Election because of Work or School obligations.

To address these findings and strengthen the Democratic Process in New York State, here are a series of Bills that will enable Early Voting and No-Excuse Absentee Voting, Modernize and Expand Voter Registration, Extend Primary Election Voting Hours and Ensure Uniformity throughout the State, and Expand Language Options for Ballots.

The Senator Democratic Conference’s Voting Reforms Package includes:

Early Voting: This Bill, S.7400-A, would establish an Early Voting system to permit Eligible Voters in New York State to Vote In-Person during a designated period prior to any Primary, Special, or General Election day. This Bill will also establish an Early Voting Fund to cover the Expenses of Early Voting so that Local Governments are not Unfairly Burdened.

No-Excuse Absentee Voting: This Bill, S.840, would amend the State Constitution to allow for any Voter to Request to Vote by Mail without Declaring Reason(s).

Automatic Voter Registration: This Bill, S.3409, would Automatically Register Voters who interact with most State or Local Agencies unless they Affirmatively Opt-Out.

Change of Party Enrollment Reform: This Bill, S.5615, would allow a Voter to vote in a Primary Election if they have changed their Party Enrollment up to Ninety days prior to a Primary Election, instead of the current Requirement that they change Registration prior to the previous General Election, which can often be more than a Year in advance.

The Voter Empowerment Act: This Bill, S.3304, would create a Modern Voter Registration system that will Reduce Costs for processing Voter Registrations and maintain complete and accurate Voter Registration Lists. This Legislation will help Reduce the Inaccuracy and Disenfranchisement caused by Human Error. The Voter Empowerment Act will also, among other things, transfer the Registrations of New Yorkers who move within the State; Provide for Access to Voter Registration Records and the Registration of eligible Citizens over the Internet; and move the Deadlines for Voter Registration.

Pre-Registration for 16 and 17 Year Olds: This Bill, S.4440, will enable 16 and 17 Year olds to Pre-Register to Vote.

Primary Voting Hours Consistency: This Bill, S.7264, would ensure that Primary Voting Hours across the State will be Uniform and Polling Places will be open from 6:00AM to 9:00PM on Primary Election days.

Consolidation of Federal and State Primaries: This Bill, S.3562-A, would Save Tax Payer Dollars and make State Primary Elections the Same Day as Federal Primary Elections. It also ensures that New York State’s Election Law complies with the Federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Expanded Language Options for Ballots: Senate Democratic Conference Members have introduced Legislation to ensure Voters whose First Language is not English understand their Ballots and the Voting process. These Bills, S.5602, S.3869, and S.5825, would increase available Materials in Haitian Creole, Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, and Russian in areas with large numbers of Voters who speak those Languages.

Advanced Notice of Elections: To ensure Voters are Well-Informed and aware of upcoming Elections, Senate Bills S.5527 and S.6733 would require Boards of Election to Mail Notices to Voters shortly before all Primary, General, and Special Elections.

Empowering New Yorkers to have a more Active Role in their State Government should not be a Partisan or Controversial Issue.

These Bills will bring New York’s Archaic Election System Laws into the 21st Century.

We need to urge the Senate Republicans to stop playing Politics with New Yorkers’ Constitutional Right to Vote. The Right to Vote is one of the most fundamental Freedoms belonging to every American. But New York’s Convoluted and Out-of-Date Voting Laws discourage Participation in our Electoral Process and lead us to have one of the Lowest Voter Turnout Rates in the Country.

It's time we replace Legislators who Constantly Repress Not Advance important Package of Bills that will Modernize Voting Procedures, Remove Barriers to Voting, and help give New Yorkers the Free, Fair, and Accessible Elections we Deserve.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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