A month before last year’s presidential election, New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin told the site’s readers what many New Yorkers already knew: “The state with one of the worst records on voting rights is the nation’s great citadel of liberalism: New York.” Since then, another state legislative session has passed in the great citadel of liberalism, and, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted some proposed voting reforms in his State of the State addresses, none of the major reforms became law. Now, some lawmakers are hoping that Cuomo pushes harder for those same voting reforms in 2018 – and reforms campaign finance law while he’s at it. “It’s long, long past time that we closed the LLC loophole,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat on the Elections Committee. “It’s the worst-kept secret in Albany. Every year we pay lip service to reform, and every year we kick the can down the road.”
Articles about voting issues in New York.
A federal judge on Thursday rejected a constitutional challenge to a New York state law barring voters from taking photographs of their marked ballots, known as “ballot selfies,” so they could post them on social media websites. U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan also upheld the constitutionality of a New York City Board of Elections policy barring photography at city polling places. Rejecting free speech challenges under the First Amendment, Castel said the state law was “narrowly tailored” to help thwart fraud and ensure the integrity of the election process, while the city policy was a reasonable means to limit delays at the ballot box. The judge issued his 41-page decision one month after a two-day, non-jury trial.
Since moving into his White House office months ago, Jared Kushner—senior adviser and son-in-law to the President, savior of the Middle East, and possible person of interest in a federal investigation—has amassed a rather extensive project portfolio. The issues under Kushner’s purview include negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine, fixing the opioid crisis, updating technology across the entire federal government, and spearheading criminal justice reform, to name just a few. It seems like a nearly impossible set of challenges for anyone to tackle, and even more so for Kushner. Because in addition to not having any previous government experience, the former real estate exec has demonstrated repeated difficulty filling out simple, routine forms correctly. This includes his own voter registration form. According to the records held by the New York State Board of Elections, Jared Corey Kushner is a woman. Is Kushner a woman? Did he just accidentally fill out the form incorrectly? Is he the victim of a malicious voter impersonation scheme? Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way to know for sure, because he has yet to provide WIRED with a comment. But based on his recent history with paperwork, option two seems like a pretty safe bet.
A new state law approved this week changed one word in the state’s elections laws, but it could eventually be a way to get more poll workers, local officials said. Senate Bill S.443A, signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, allows for county boards of elections to split shifts of poll workers — allowing workers to take shifts shorter than the 16-hour shifts for general elections and nine-hour shifts for primary elections, as long as there is at least one poll worker from each major party working at one time. The change in the law — which changes the word “half” to “split” — won’t mean immediate relief for long poll workers’ days, but local elections officials said it could be “a step maybe in the right direction.”
New York is wrongly purging voter rolls to remove the names of supposedly inactive voters, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of a government watchdog group. The legal challenge against state elections officials argues the state’s purging policy violates federal law governing how states can scrub names from their list of registered voters. “New York’s outdated policies disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters in clear violation of the National Voter Registration Act,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the good government group Common Cause-New York. The state’s aggressive purging policy was highlighted in last year’s elections, when tens of thousands of names were purged from voter rolls in Brooklyn, prompting widespread complaints from voters forced to cast affidavit ballots.
A judge listened to testimony from witnesses on both sides in a lawsuit seeking to make it legal in the state for voters to photograph their marked ballots. Judge P. Kevin Castel did not immediately rule Tuesday on the merits of a year-old lawsuit brought by several voters who want to distribute pictures of their ballots on social media. Last year, the judge refused to shut down the 1890 law just before the presidential election, saying it would “wreak havoc” to let ballot selfies occur at thousands of polling places.
New York state will hand over some voter information to President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud, becoming the first state to largely comply with the request after initially balking. The state’s Board of Elections voted Wednesday to provide data such as voter names, birthdates, addresses and voting history after determining it was a legitimate request based on state open records laws. The state will withhold certain information, however, such as a voter’s Social Security number or criminal history, because of state laws on voter privacy. “The data will be sent out this afternoon,” said John Conklin, a spokesman for the Board of Elections. “We had no lawful reason to deny it.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered state agencies to make voter registration forms available to the public and offer assistance in filling them out in an effort to boost participation in elections. An executive order the governor signed Monday requires agencies to mail or provide electronic voter registration forms to any member of the public whose contact information is on file. Previously, only the state Department of Motor Vehicles and certain social service agencies provided voter registration forms.
Every decade, New York state redraws its legislative and congressional districts in a process that critics have derided as skewed toward incumbents and majority parties. The last redistricting ended in 2012, and the years between then and the 2020 federal census — which will provide fresh demographic data before a new round — would arguably include a lot of downtime for the task force that was once assigned to do the work. Yet records show the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Appointment maintains a large and expensive staff, even though its power to draw district lines was taken away by a constitutional amendment passed three years ago. LATFOR had faced criticism for drawing district lines that favor the candidates of majority Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans.
The federal government is failing to coordinate a response to evidence of Russian hacking of U.S. elections, so New York state is taking action on its own, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday. Cuomo said in a release that he has directed the state Cyber Security Advisory Board to work with agencies and Boards of Election to assess the threats to the cyber security of New York’s elections and recommend solutions. This directive comes amidst confirmation by the intelligence community of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election.