Photo Courtesy of Project Woodhaven
“Having one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation does not reflect well on our state,” said Sen. Addabbo.
By Forum Staff
A group of State senators are looking to advance a package of election law reform bills in an effort to combat the trend of low voter turnout in New York, according to Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), who is co-sponsoring four of the proposed measures.
Addabbo said that S. 7538 would change the layout of ballots to make them easier to read and understand; S.840 would establish “no fault” absentee balloting by enabling any voter to request and cast their ballot by mail without declaring any reason for doing so; S.3562 would save taxpayer money spent on organizing and holding elections by requiring state primary elections and federal primary elections to be held on the same day.
Additionally, the Voter Empowerment Act would create a modern voter registration system to reduce costs for processing registrations, maintain complete and accurate voter registration lists, and make it easier overall for New Yorkers to register and vote.
“Expanding and protecting voter rights here in New York is paramount in making the process easier and more accessible for a larger number of voters,” Addabbo said. “Having one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation does not reflect well on our state. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and if we want to continue to have a strong democracy, we need to enact sensible measures to allow and encourage more voters to get to the ballot box.”
Addabbo indicated that he’s also supporting bills in the package that would: establish an early voting system; make voter suppression a crime; and implement uniform poll-closing procedures to ensure integrity in the process. Others would expand and reform affidavit voting by allowing ballots to be cast and counted when a voter accidentally appears at the wrong election district in the right county.
The senator noted that this latest package of proposals build upon legislation he sponsored during the period when the State and City were implementing provisions of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.
“It’s no secret that we have great challenges ahead in restoring public trust in our electoral system and in our government itself,” Addabbo added. “We obviously require reasonable safeguards to ensure the integrity and veracity of our election process and results. However, it is equally clear that we need to remove unnecessarily burdensome obstacles that cause people to jump through hoops to participate in their democracy and that ultimately discourage people from even bothering to vote.”