Vote Better NY Calls on Lawmakers to Remove Barriers to the Ballot
May 02, 2017
Today, on the 4th annual Voter Day in Albany, the Vote Better NY coalition calls on state lawmakers to remove New York's barriers to the ballot and ensure the right to vote for every eligible New Yorker. Over 100 citizen advocates are meeting with legislators in Albany to share their personal voting experiences and make the case for reforming New York's election laws, which are among the most restrictive in the country.
Vote Better NY seeks the following common sense changes to New York's voting laws so that every eligible New Yorker is registered to vote, voters have more than one day to get to the polls, and every voter can cast a ballot that counts:
- Early voting (A2064 and S2950)
- Voter Empowerment Act (A2278 and S3304)
- New York Votes Act (A5312)
- Preclearance (A5925)
For more information about these bills, read our fact sheet.
"New York's democracy is in crisis. Nearly 2 million voting-age citizens in our state are not registered to vote. We fall to the bottom of national voter turnout rankings. While other states have made it easier to register and vote, our state has fallen behind. Voters in New York deserve the same protections to vote that citizens in other states have enjoyed for years. It's time for our lawmakers to listen to us," said Onida Coward Mayers, NYC Voter Coordinator and Director of Voter Assistance at the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
“The right to vote is the right that protects all other rights. New York should be leading the nation when it comes to voting rights -- but our registration and voting systems are an affront to our democracy,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “That’s why I was proud to introduce the New York Votes Act, which will ensure that New Yorkers’ voting rights are protected and expanded through common-sense reforms like early voting, automatic and same-day registration, consolidated primaries, and more.”
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Elections have consequences. New York has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation and that should embarrass us. We should be making it easier to vote and not be putting up roadblocks. That is why I have advanced legislation to enable early voting, and why the Senate Democratic Conference has rolled out multiple pro-voter bills.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris said, "The assault on voting rights has damaged our democracy and disenfranchised millions of Americans. New York can and should be doing more to empower voters. As the author of the Voter Empowerment Act, I am proud to support efforts to increase dismal voter participation rates and have a process that encourages, rather than discourages, voter enfranchisement."
Assembly Member Latrice Walker said, “I am happy to stand with Vote Better NY on Voter Day to remove New York's barriers to the ballot and ensure the right to vote for every eligible New Yorker. Issues preventing people from voting are why I introduced ‘The Modernized Voter Registration Act (A.5627)’ – an omnibus bill that comprehensively protects the right to vote in New York."
“As public officials, we have a fundamental responsibility to secure New Yorkers' right to vote,” said Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. “It's simply our duty to enact reforms to allow early voting, streamline the registration process, and ensure the electoral process is free of discriminatory barriers to participation. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to swiftly pass a comprehensive package of reforms. I call on my Republican colleagues in the Senate to join Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins to move these bills through the legislature and Governor Cuomo to work with us to get them enacted."
Blair Horner, Executive Director of NYPIRG, said, "New York ranks consistently as one of the nation's worst states in terms of voter participation, driven by our archaic voter registration and election administration systems. Still, young people want to participate in democracy. NYPIRG sees that every day on college campuses across the state. It's time for Albany to pass real voter reform bills to make participation easier, not harder.”
"On this day of action, Dominicanos USA joins our partners on the Vote Better NY campaign to remove voting ballot barriers in New York's antiquated laws," said Eddie Cuesta, New York Director of Dominicanos USA. "Since our inception, we have supported same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration. We expect our voices to be heard as a means to ensure early voting through the legislation we are advocating to pass."
“The League of Women Voters of New York State is proud to work with Vote Better NY on fighting for voting reforms in New York State," said Jennifer Wilson, Program and Policy Director for the League of Women Voters of NYS. "The time is now to pass voting reforms in New York State; we must enfranchise all voters and ensure that everyone is afforded an equal opportunity to cast their ballot for whichever candidate they choose. We hope that the two houses will work together to pass these reforms before session ends.”
Sharon Lin, NYC's Youth Poet Laureate said, "New York City is having a citywide election this fall, and I hope to motivate as many young people to go to the polls as possible. That's no easy feat in a state that's placed a myriad of obstacles between its citizens and the ballot box. Engaging in our democracy shouldn't be complicated. Today, I'm here to urge lawmakers to make it easier for young New Yorkers to enter the electoral process and stay engaged for the long run."
Zoe Davidson, Co-founder of Coalition Z, said, "As the basis for a functioning democracy, we must ensure that every eligible voter can cast a ballot with ease and efficiency. Coalition Z is attending Voter Day as part of our mission to bridge the gap between the democracy we have and the one we want." Alex Lehman, Co-founder of Coalition Z, added, "While many of our members might not be able to vote, we can help ensure that our parents and other adults have the ability to conveniently take part in the democratic process."
Chanel Turnquest of the NAACP New York - Syracuse Youth Chapter said, “Early voting is necessary! With families having to work two or more jobs, early voting will give people more than just one day to go to the polls. Expanding voting registration possibilities will remove barriers to voting allowing more people to participate.”
Join the conversation and follow Vote Better NY's progress on Tuesday with the hashtag #VoteBetterNY on Twitter and Facebook.
Vote Better NY Partner Organizations:
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
- Bronx Community College
- Bronx Progressives
- Brooklyn Advocates for Growth
- Citizen Soldier
- Citizens Union
- City University of New York
- City University of New York University Student Senate
- Coalition Z
- Dominicanos USA
- Get Organized BK!
- League of Women Voters of the City of New York
- Manhattan Community Board 11
- NAACP Syracuse
- National Council of Negro Women
- North Manhattan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
- NYC Voters
- Queens College NYPIRG
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. - Eta Nu Zeta Chapter
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. - Sigma Nu Zeta Chapter
NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). In addition to promoting voter registration, participation, and civic engagement in New York City through its many programs and partnerships, NYC Votes sponsors the city’s official Debate Program and produces the citywide Voter Guide.
For more information on the bills we support read our fact sheet.