As Democrats in the state Legislature continue a rapid pace of passing legislation to start the new session, the state Senate seems poised to advance another round of election and voting reforms, including approving the use of electronic poll books to administer elections. Electronic poll books, used in at least 34 states and the District of Columbia, are a fairly simple but significant instrument in making elections more efficient, experts and advocates argue. They make voting faster, preventing long lines at polling sites, save costs in the long run, and are easier to update and maintain compared to the paper lists currently used in New York. Some advocates also say e-poll books, as they’re often called, are essential in implementing improvements to voter registration processes, which the state Legislature put into motion last month, and helpful in the implementation of the significant shift of early voting, also part of the recently-passed package.Full Article: Electronic Poll Books Next Step in New York Election Overhaul.
Articles about voting issues in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation making New York the 38th state to allow early voting. The bill, which the Democratic-led state Legislature passed last week, establishes a nine-day early voting period before election days. The early voting period would conclude on the Sunday before an election. Democratic lawmakers attempted for years to adopt an early voting system, but the bill was blocked by Republicans when the GOP controlled the state Senate. With Democrats now in the Senate majority, the bill cleared that legislative hurdle. “Early voting is going to be transformative for the system,” said Cuomo, who has, for years, included early voting in his annual legislative agenda.Full Article: Cuomo signs 'transformative' early voting bill, other NY election reforms | Eye on NY | auburnpub.com.
New York state lawmakers approved a series of reforms intended to make it easier to vote on Monday, including giving voters 10 days of early access to the ballot box prior to Election Day and consolidating primary dates. The reforms were passed by the new Democratic majority in the state Senate. Similar reforms have died in the legislature in recent years, thanks to Republican control in the Senate. The bills are expected to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who commended the legislature for taking “quick action” on the issue, soon. “At a time when the federal government is doing everything it can to disenfranchise voters, we are taking action to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in the democratic process and crack down on corporate influences in our election,” Cuomo said in a statement on Monday.Full Article: New York lawmakers approve election reforms, including early voting.
After years of lagging behind other states, New York radically overhauled its system of voting and elections on Monday, passing several bills that would allow early voting, preregistration of minors, voting by mail and sharp limits on the influence of money. The bills, which were passed by the State Legislature on Monday evening, bring New York in line with policies in other liberal bastions like California and Washington, and they would quiet, at least for a day, complaints about the state’s antiquated approach to suffrage. Their swift passage marked a new era in the State Capitol. Democrats, who assumed full control this month after decades in which the Legislature was split, say they will soon push through more of their priorities, from strengthening abortion rights to approving the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their assailants.Full Article: With New Voting Laws, Democrats Flex Newfound Power in New York - The New York Times.
For years, the ways in which voters in New York have been stymied by the state’s antiquated voting laws have stood in stark contrast to the state’s liberal reputation. During last year’s contentious midterm elections, New York was the only state in the nation that held separate state and federal primary elections, a bifurcation that almost seemed designed to suppress voter turnout — which is generally thought to favor incumbents. Early voting? Voting by mail? Same-day voter registration? All are fairly basic voting reforms now found in many states, but not in New York.Full Article: Early Voting and Other Election Reforms Coming to New York - The New York Times.
New York: Coalition wants ‘fair elections’ legislation to be Albany’s first priority | The Buffalo News
A coalition of 175 grassroots and community groups is pushing Albany to pass a “fair elections” package that includes such elements as small-donor public financing, closing campaign funding loopholes and early voting. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other Democratic leaders have supported various forms of such legislation in the past, but fair elections proposals had been consistently blocked by Republicans who long controlled the state Senate, organizers say. Now that Democrats control both the legislative and executive branches in New York, the Fair Elections for New York coalition wants elected officials to pass fair elections legislation right away. About 25 representatives from the coalition held a news conference Monday on the steps of Buffalo City Hall to press for the reforms.Full Article: Coalition wants ‘fair elections’ legislation to be Albany’s first priority – The Buffalo News.
If they didn’t know already, the breakdowns on Election Day reminded voters that New York has some of the most antiquated voting laws and processes in the country. From a lack of early voting to the fact that voters must declare a party affiliation more than six months before a primary, New York can make voting hard. “On this issue, we’re way far behind. New York is one of only 13 states that doesn’t have early voting,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of advocacy group Common Cause New York. “Texas adopted early voting in 1996. So it’s embarrassing.”Full Article: Cuomo's Election Day Holiday Call Surprises Even Advocates.
Democrats preparing to take control of New York’s legislature are plotting to overhaul voting and elections laws that were last updated to protect the power of Tammany Hall. Legislators and voting rights activists say New York’s laws are among the nation’s most antiquated. It is one of a minority of states that do not allow voters to cast a ballot before Election Day, and its absentee ballot laws are among the most restrictive in the country. After notching big gains in the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic leaders who will take over the state Senate in January say they will act on a handful of measures meant to update those laws.Full Article: New York’s election laws come under attack by Dems | TheHill.
The manufacturer of the city’s jam-plagued ballot scanners misled the Board of Elections about the devices’ vulnerability to humidity, which likely contributed to the Big Apple’s Election Day meltdown, The Post has learned. Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software claimed its scanners could operate in any humidity level in a key document it filed as part of its winning bid for the $56 million contract. But ES&S contradicts itself in the very instruction manual it publishes for the model of scanner the BOE purchased, filings with authorities in other states show. “Humidity and wetness were a factor in the paper jams on Election Day and ES&S was not transparent in the contract about the implications of wetness and humidity,” said Alex Camarda, an elections expert with the government watchdog Reinvent Albany.Full Article: High humidity levels may have caused NYC's Election Day fiasco.
Voting on the weekend could be coming in 2020 for New Yorkers. An overhaul of the state’s election procedures is expected to be one of the consequences of the Democratic takeover of the state Senate, which will likely be more receptive to proposed reforms that had passed the Democratic-controlled state Assembly, including early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and a single legislative primary date. Progressive activists and Senate Democrats anticipate voting reforms will be near the top of the Legislature’s agenda when state lawmakers return to Albany in January. Many of these proposals were held up in the state Senate’s committee process during GOP control of the chamber.Full Article: Voting in New York poised for overhaul - Times Union.
New York: Over 1,000 Ballot Scanners Went Unused During New York City Election Day Fiasco | Gothamist
While thousands of New Yorkers stood in hours-long lines waiting for their chance to vote in last Tuesday’s midterm election, more than 1,000 Board of Elections scanners that could have been deployed to alleviate wait times and scanner malfunctions were kept out of circulation, according to officials on the Board. The details emerged following the first regularly scheduled meeting of the BOE since a chaotic election that saw widespread problems at poll sites in NYC. The meeting lasted less than eight minutes, but each commissioner still earned their regular pay of $300, in accordance with state law. Manhattan Commissioner Frederick Umane spoke to reporters following the brief session Tuesday. “We had over 300 scanners that were not deployed because we didn’t have room for them in the poll sites,” he said, speaking specifically about Manhattan. Umane said the BOE had consolidated some poll sites into buildings that were ADA accessible and run out of room to fit additional scanners.Full Article: Over 1,000 Ballot Scanners Went Unused During NYC Election Day Fiasco: Gothamist.
When Rebekah Burgess Abromovich got in line to vote at the North Henry Street polling center in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, only two electronic voting scanners were working. After an hour of voting, the working machines were down to one. When she finally submitted her ballot more than three hours after arriving, volunteers had begun handing out emergency ballot boxes, which few understood how to use. “I was lucky because I was given the day off to vote,” she said. But other people were bailing. “I was standing next to a teacher who waited for two and a half hours, and then had to leave to teach a class. She said she had to come back.” In polling places in New York City’s five boroughs, similar stories of out-of-commission voting machines echoed: At different points on Tuesday, only one scanner worked at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx, Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Public Library polling station, according to NBC New York. At PS 22 in Prospect Heights, all four scanners broke for much of the morning, before getting fixed at 10 am. Elsewhere, ballot sleeves were missing. Lines stretched blocks and hours long.Full Article: Were NYC’s Technical Difficulties Voter Suppression? - CityLab.
Republicans are attacking an initiative by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restore the voting rights of former felons, holding hearings and releasing a new digital advertisement accusing him of prioritizing sex offenders over other voters. Between April and September, 30,666 parolees received a conditional pardon allowing them to vote, a member of Mr. Cuomo’s cabinet revealed this week. It is unclear how many of those people have registered, said representatives for the State Board of Elections. Previously, those convicted of felonies in New York could vote only after completing parole. The governor, a Democrat seeking a third term in November, and his team cast their effort as necessary to combat the effects of mass incarceration, and said disenfranchising voters disproportionately impacts racial minorities.Full Article: Republicans Attack Cuomo’s Plan to Restore Felons’ Voting Rights - WSJ.
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.Full Article: New York primaries: Why New York City voters rolls were missing names again, explained - Vox.
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.”Full Article: Lawsuit Says Voting System in Long Island Town Shuts Out Latinos - The New York Times.
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.Full Article: Protecting against a hack attack this election | WBFO.
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.Full Article: New York launches drills to thwart election hacking | Reuters.
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.Full Article: Board of Elections say 'no' to request for ballots - Times Union.
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.Full Article: Senate Dems look to simplify voting process ahead of federal and state primaries – The Legislative Gazette.
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.Full Article: Win for Election Transparency as Court Rules Ballot Images Are Public Records - WhoWhatWhy.