Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced new legislation to restore accountability and ensure access to the ballot box by eliminating baseless and intimidating challenges to voter eligibility at the polls on Election Day. Under current law, voters who are challenged at the polls are required to recite an oath affirming their right to vote. The challenger, on the other hand, has no such obligation. Under the Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, introduced by Assembly Member Karim Camara, those who mount challenges to voters at the polls will be required to provide the factual basis for their challenge and attest their right to challenge a voter. While these basic accountability requirements are already enshrined in law for challenges made during the time of voter registration, no such protections exist at the polls on Election Day. The Act will correct this imbalance and ensure greater access to the ballot box.
“Access to the ballot box stands as the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Schneiderman. “As public officials, we should all be working to make it easier for people to vote, not harder. We have an obligation to ensure that all eligible voters are free to cast ballots inside the polls on Election Day, without being subject to harassment, baseless challenges or intimidating tactics. I thank and applaud Assembly Member Kamara for introducing our bill and taking a stand on behalf of voters and our constitutional rights.”
Camara said, “Many before us fought battles both foreign and domestic to guarantee the right to vote for all Americans. This legislation is designed to fight those who try to take that right away. We will not allow voter intimidation in New York and there will be no tolerance for the dirty tricks used to keep people from exercising their right to participate in our electoral process. This law will make those who think they can intimidate, think twice. We’re going to make it harder for them to act anonymously; and we’re going to punish them when they disgrace our democracy by using intimidation at the polls.”
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