New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) will introduce a sweeping package of reforms to the Empire State’s voter registration and election laws when the legislature reconvenes next year. In a report issued Tuesday, Schneiderman said he will push legislators to adopt an opt-out voter registration system, in which any eligible citizen is registered to vote during interactions with state agencies unless they proactively decline. Similar systems have registered millions of new voters in Oregon and California. Schneiderman also said he wants to allow New York voters to obtain an absentee ballot without having to offer an excuse and to allow voters to cast ballots in person for two weeks ahead of Election Day. While early and absentee voting is a critical element of each party’s strategy for winning swing states such as Florida, North Carolina and Nevada, Northeastern states have resisted pushes to ease voting ahead of Election Day. Like New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania all require voters to offer an excuse before obtaining an absentee ballot, and none offer in-person early voting. “The right to vote is the right that protects all other rights. New York must become a national leader by protecting and expanding voting rights throughout the state,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman’s office said it had received 1,500 calls to its voter protection hotline during New York’s presidential primary. Schneiderman said two-thirds of those calls came from voters who missed the deadline to register with a party, and therefore could not participate in a primary.
Under Schneiderman’s package of proposals, New York voters would be allowed to choose a party closer to the primary election, and new voters would be able to register and vote on the same day. New York would also establish an online voter registration system, something more than half the states have already implemented.
Groups that support enhanced voter access cheered Schneiderman’s proposals, which must still win support from the Democratic-controlled state Assembly and the Republican-controlled state Senate.
“Our outdated system makes it difficult for many to even get registered,” said Jennifer Clark, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. “Automatic voter registration has the potential to add a million eligible New Yorkers to the rolls, and implementing it at agencies beyond the [Department of Motor Vehicles] would make our state a nationwide leader.”
Full Article: NY attorney general calls for voting overhaul | TheHill.