Village Election Highlights the Need for a 21st Century Election System in New York
- Around Town
- Published on Tuesday, 04 April 2017 17:22
- Mary Beth Evans and Deb Morel
Do you know what you're missing when it comes to your right to vote under the current NYS election laws – or what do about it? Most of us don't, and now is the time to get educated and let your state representatives know what changes you want them to make, like early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, electronic voter rolls, Election Day registration and automatic voter registration, to name a few.
Fortunately, there's an upcoming local opportunity to get informed and to engage directly with a panel of experts on NYS voting and elections, as members of the public are invited to the League of Women Voters of White Plains forum on "Voting Issues and Reform in New York" on Wednesday, April 19th at 7 pm. For the event flier, click here.
Following the last month's Scarsdale village elections, the Mayor justly praised our Village staff for their efficiency and professionalism in handling the historic voter turnout. But how much more quickly and efficiently could staff have processed the lines of Scarsdale voters at the Library using electronic voter rolls? And how many more Scarsdalians might have participated in this and other elections had New York State allowed early in-person voting on multiple days, including weekends, Election Day voter registration, automatic voter registration, and "no excuse" absentee voting?
"New York has long been a bastion of democracy," says New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, "but our state's current system of registration and voting is an affront to that legacy." For example, when it comes to efficient, fair and accessible voting, New York currently lags well behind the District of Columbia and many other states, including:
• 37 states that already allow early in-person voting; and
• 27 states that already allow "no-excuse" absentee voting.
When it comes to voter registration modernization, according to state data compiled by NYU Law School's Brennan Center, New York trails the District of Columbia and many other states, including:
• 34 states that use electronic voter rolls to process voters at the polls;
• 14 states that allow 16-17 year-olds to pre-register to vote before turning 18;
• 14 states that allow Election Day voter registration; and
• 6 states with automatic voter registration of eligible citizens thru interaction with government agencies, unless they "opt out."
New York voter turnout also ranks among the lowest in the nation, with only 57.3% of eligible New Yorkers reportedly casting ballots in the 2016 general election – the tenth-lowest voter turnout among all states.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Schneiderman introduced the New York Votes Act, a comprehensive reform bill, drafted to simplify the voting process and increase New York voter registration and turnout. Governor Cuomo also indicated support for reforms such as early voting and same-day voter registration; however, he has since postponed addressing New York's outdated voting laws until the April-June legislative session, after the state budget has been adopted.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization working to promote civic responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government.
The right of every citizen to vote has been a basic principle of the League since its origin in 1920, and the League has been fighting for equal access to the polls ever since. Nationwide, we register voters, provide nonpartisan election information, and fight for elections systems that are fair and accessible.
On Wednesday, April 19th at 7:00 pm the League of Women Voters of White Plains welcomes the public to learn about "Voting Issues and Reform in New York" and what can be done to bring the election process in New York into the 21st century.
Sally Robinson, Vice President of the League of Women Voters of New York State will moderate the discussion with three expert panelists: Tomas Lopez, Counsel for NYU's Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program; Jennifer Wilson, League of Women Voters of New York State Director of Program and Policy; and New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald, Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement.
Mary Beth Evans, Advocacy Chair
Deb Morel, President
League of Women Voters of Scarsdale