As New Yorkers go to the polls to vote in state primary elections Thursday, some voters are finding there’s no record of their registration. That includes some prominent media figures: New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister and HuffPost Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen were among those who tweeted their names were missing from the rolls at their local polling places — meaning they can’t cast a regular ballot. They were far from the only ones. Others tweeted about their experiences having to sign an affidavit and cast a provisional ballot for the first time in years. Local New York publication Gothamist reported “mass confusion” at some polling stations. The stakes are high this year — there are contested primaries for major statewide offices, including governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. People whose names aren’t found on the rolls can still vote, they just have to sign a sworn affidavit validating their identify before they can cast a provisional ballot.
Articles about voting issues in New York.
For Maria Hernandez, the chief problem in Brentwood, her Long Island hometown, has always been the streets and their state of disrepair. For Ana Flores, it was the time town officials dumped tons of construction debris into one of Brentwood’s parks. Others in the hamlet, which sits within the town of Islip, mentioned different troubles — traffic lights don’t work, trash pickups are slow, schools are underfunded — but all of them, they say, have the same root cause: The way that Islip, a mostly white community, elects its local leaders has diluted the power of Latino residents, effectively robbing them of their vote. “If you come to Brentwood, you would notice that our town looks very different from the other towns in this municipality,” said Ms. Hernandez, 53, who moved to Brentwood from El Salvador nearly 20 years ago. “There’s so much lack of interest from the town board that we feel like an island. We are like a ghost town.”
With the elections season heating up, there is increasing attention to making sure someone with bad intent cannot interfere with the vast computer systems behind the vote. The country is filled with different election systems. Some are completely computerized, others not and a lot in between. Erie County has voting machines that scan paper ballots and deliver a count when the polls close. However, those paper ballots are still available if there is a recount. New York is conducting a series of cybersecurity drills through mid-June to test how vulnerable the state’s election system is to hacking. The exercises will simulate scenarios in which a hostile group seeks to tamper with voting systems, change election tallies or otherwise undermine voter confidence. The events are meant to help officials identify problems with election security before they can be exploited.
Federal and New York state officials say they will hold drills in the weeks leading up to primary elections for the U.S. House and Senate to prevent hacking and other cyber threats to voting systems, officials said on Wednesday. The exercises, which will begin in Albany on Thursday, come amid heightened scrutiny of the nation’s voting systems following Russian hacking in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “The people of New York deserve an open, transparent election process they can trust, and these exercises are an integral part of restoring voter confidence and the integrity of our election infrastructure,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Saratoga County Board of Elections has once again rejected a request for copies of the electronic ballots cast in November’s charter referendum that was defeated by 10 votes. In a May 25, 2018 letter from the county Board of Supervisors, the former chair of the now disbanded Charter Review Commission Bob Turner was informed that the request “is duplicative of your previous request, which (has) been fully settled.” Turner said the move by Board of Election Commissioners Roger Schiera (Republican) and William Fruci (Democrat) “undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. If the election was run properly, there is nothing to hide,” Turner said. The city’s charter-change advocates submitted a second Freedom of Information Law request after an April 12 ruling of 3-2 in Kosmider vs. Whitney in the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court. A panel of five judges ruled that electronic ballot images in this Essex County case can be accessed through a FOIL request. The Board of Supervisors in Essex County, the Sun Community News reported, has filed a paperwork reserving the right to appeal.
New York: Senate Democrats look to simplify voting process ahead of federal and state primaries | The Legislative Gazette
The New York State Senate Democratic Conference is sponsoring a package of bills to simplify the voter registration process for primary, general and special elections after releasing their own report researching low voter turnout. The Senate Democratic report, “Why Don’t More New Yorkers Vote? A Snapshot Identifying Low Voter Turnout,” explains in the executive summary that New York was “41st in turnout in the nation, and [was] worst in the Northeast” during the 2016 general election. This conclusion was based on “unofficial results” available on the state election board’s website cited in the study and an additional study done by the U.S. Election Project.
New York: Win for Election Transparency as Court Rules Ballot Images Are Public Records | WhoWhatWhy
Election-integrity advocates hailed the recent decision of a state court that could have a sweeping effect on election transparency throughout the country. At issue was whether electronic ballot images — the kind captured by optical and digital ballot scanners — are public records and therefore subject to freedom of information laws. That is particularly important because most Americans cast their ballots through some kind of electronic voting machine — despite their proven vulnerability — and ballot images provide the public with at least some measure that their votes are counted accurately. Therefore, easy access to these images is crucial. Knowing that the public has some measure of verification is an important deterrent against tampering with elections. That is precisely why this case from upstate New York is a major victory for transparency advocates.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he intends to restore voting rights to felons on parole, a move that could open the ballot box to more than 35,000 people. The mechanism through which Mr. Cuomo plans to do so is unusual: He would consider pardons for all 35,000 people currently on parole in New York, as well as any new convicted felons who enter the parole system each month. The move amounts to a legal sidestep of the State Legislature, where the Republican-controlled Senate has opposed many of Mr. Cuomo’s proposed criminal justice reforms. It does not change state law, which currently bars convicted felons from voting unless they are on probation or have completed parole.
Seven voters in New York’s 25th Congressional District have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, for failing, so far, to call a special election. The seat has been vacant since long-serving Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter died on March 16. The plaintiffs said because the governor has not issued a Proclamation of Election in a “reasonably timely manner,” they have been denied their constitutionally-protected rights to vote and to representation. The suit claimed Cuomo is required to call the election and should have been prepared to do so promptly after Slaughter died.
Despite months of lobbying by voting reform activists, local and county officials and good government groups, lawmakers in Albany failed to include funding for early voting in the final version of the 2018-2019 budget. The completed spending plan, which was finalized early Saturday morning ahead of the start of a new fiscal year, does not include Gov. Cuomo’s proposed early voting plan. The proposal, which was outlined in the 2018 State of the State address in January, would have implemented up to 12 days of early voting ahead of election day. New York is currently one of 13 states that does not have early voting beyond absentee ballots.