New York: Early voting: Cuomo wants it; Counties have concerns | Poughkeepsie Journal

Registered voters in New York wouldn’t have to wait until Election Day to cast their ballot in person if Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way. A measure in Cuomo’s $145 billion budget proposal would make New York the 38th state in the country to allow early voting, in which a limited number of polling places are opened ahead of elections, freeing up voters from having to cast their ballot on a specific day. Supporters of early voting say states should be doing anything they can to make voting more convenient, particularly in New York, where just 29 percent of voters cast their ballot in 2014, a gubernatorial election year.

New York: Reform groups say Cuomo should include funds for early voting in 2016 budget | Auburn Citizen

A collection of good government groups is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to insert funding in his 2016-17 executive budget for two election reform proposals. The New York Voters Coalition said the state should provide $5 million to help counties implement early voting and an additional $2 million for the development of electronic poll books and ballot on demand systems. According to the group, which includes representatives from Common Cause/NY, League of Women Voters New York State and the New York Public Interest Research Group, the measures could boost voter turnout in New York. “We note that 2016 is a particularly appropriate year to fund much-needed election administration reforms, with important election contests at the presidential, gubernatorial, congressional level and legislative levels,” they wrote.

New York: Cuomo Sets Election Date to Fill Grimm’s House Seat | Wall Street Journal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday called a special election in the race to succeed former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm on Staten Island. The special election will be held May 5, Mr. Cuomo said. U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein had ordered Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, to set a date for the election by the end of the week. Mr. Grimm, a Republican who was re-elected in November over Democrat Domenic Recchia, resigned Jan. 5 after pleading guilty to tax fraud related to a restaurant he once owned. The only Republican candidate is Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan. There are a handful of possible Democratic contenders, including Brooklyn City Councilman Vincent Gentile, Brooklyn Assemblyman William Colton and Robert Holst, a Staten Island electrician and a founder of the Middle Class Action Project, an advocacy group. The congressional seat represents all of Staten Island and a sliver of southern Brooklyn.

New York: Judge orders Cuomo to set special election | The Hill

A federal judge has ruled that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has until Friday to set the date for a special election to replace former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), or the court will do it for him. Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled on Tuesday in favor of a group that sued Cuomo in an attempt to force him to call for the vote in New York’s 11th District. “The right to representation in government is the central pillar of democracy in this country,” Weinstein wrote. “Unjustified delay in filling a vacancy cannot be countenanced. Unless the Governor announces the date for a special election on or before noon on Friday, February 20, 2015, or justifies a further delay at a hearing to be conducted by this court at that time and date, this court will fix the date for a special election as promptly as the law will allow.”

New York: Cuomo attorneys argue against special-election suit | Capital New York

Attorneys for Gov. Andrew Cuomo argued in court filings last week that a lawsuit seeking to compel the governor to call a special election to replace former congressman Michael Grimm represented an “extraordinary and drastic remedy” for a nonexistent problem. The suit, brought by Ronald Castorina Jr., who serves as the Republican commissioner for Staten Island on the city’s Board of Elections, claims that Cuomo has a “mandatory and not discretionary” duty to call a special election once a seat becomes vacant, and that not doing so is a “continuous and ongoing” failure that the court must address. Grimm resigned from Congress in early January after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud. Cuomo’s lawyers argue that federal and state law places the ability to call a special election at the discretion of the governor, and that a month is not a long enough time to constitute a breach of that duty.

New York: ‘The governor is a governor, not a king,’ argues attorney in hearing to force Cuomo to set special election | SILive.com

The plaintiffs suing to force a special congressional election told a federal judge that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking away the voice of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn on serious national issues. “We’re talking about the disenfranchisement of nearly 750,000 people who will never have a voice in the XL pipeline,” said Staten Island lawyer Ronald Castorina Jr. in a hearing in Brooklyn federal court Friday morning, referring to the national debate over the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “The governor is a governor, not a king,” Castorina added. Castorina, also a city Board of Elections Republican commissioner, represents six Staten Islanders and two Brooklyn residents who argue that Cuomo is violating their constitutional rights by not setting a special election for former Rep. Michael Grimm’s vacant seat in the 11th Congressional District. Grimm resigned effective Jan. 5. U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein will decide the case.

New York: Lawsuit looks to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to set special election for Congress | SILive.com

Eight people have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, arguing his failure to set a special election date to fill the congressional vacancy violates the constitutional rights of residents of Staten Island and of southern Brooklyn. Cuomo is constitutionally required to call a special election to fill the vacated seat. The election must take place within 70 to 80 days of when he announces it. However, the governor has discretion as to when to call for a special election, which could prevent it from taking place until the next general election in November. Former Rep. Michael Grimm resigned last month after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud in connection to a Manhattan health food restaurant he used to co-own before being elected. As recently as this week, Cuomo said he had no timeline for when a special election would be set. The suit requests that the court compel the governor to set a special election.

New York: State joins ‘National Popular Vote’ compact with 9 other states | Staten Island Live

The Empire State has joined the National Popular Vote compact with legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. States that have signed on to the interstate agreement will award electoral votes for president to the candidate who receives the majority of the national popular vote. “With the passage of this legislation, New York is taking a bold step to fundamentally increase the strength and fairness of our nation’s presidential elections,” said Cuomo. “By aligning the Electoral College with the voice of the nation’s voters, we are ensuring the equality of the votes and encouraging candidates to appeal to voters in all states, instead of disproportionately focusing on early contests and swing states.”

New York: National Popular Vote: New York State Climbs Aboard | The New Yorker

On Tuesday, the State of New York took a baby step—or maybe a giant leap!—toward making the United States of America something more closely resembling a modern democracy: Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill joining up the Empire State to the National Popular Vote (N.P.V.) interstate compact. As I’ve explained many times (fifty-one, to be exact), N.P.V. is a way to elect our Presidents the way we elect our governors, our mayors, our senators and representatives, our state legislators, and everybody else: by totting up the voters’ votes—all of them—and awarding the job to whichever candidate gets the largest number. And it does this without changing a word of the Constitution. Impossible, you say? No. Quite possible—even probable—and in time for 2020, if not for 2016. Here’s how it works: Suppose you could get a bunch of states to pledge that once there are enough of them to possess at least two hundred and seventy electoral votes—a majority of the Electoral College—they will thenceforth cast all their electoral votes for whatever candidate gets the most popular votes in the entire country. As soon as that happens, presto change-o: the next time you go to the polls, you’ll be voting in a true national election. No more ten or so battleground states, no more forty or so spectator states, just the United States—all of them, and all of the voters who live in them.

New York: Cuomo Reluctantly Signs Lever Machine Bill into Law | The Epoch Times

Lever machines are officially back in New York City. Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned his signature to bill 7832-B on Tuesday, allowing the archaic voting machines back for the primaries and possible runoff elections this September. There was no celebratory exclamation point on the bill, as the governor has done on past bills he has been excited to sign into law. The memo attached to the bill, which passed the State Legislature last month, carried a somber tone. “I strongly believe the use of lever voting machines is a poor solution to the Board’s concerns,” Cuomo’s memo said, speaking of the City Board of Elections (BOE). “Most, if not all, of the impediments the Board has cited have less burdensome solutions, from changes in the Board’s own hand count requirements to the use of high-speed scanner offered by the Board’s vendor, to increase efficiency in completing the required testing.”

New York: Lever Voting Machines and New Runoff Date Are Approved by Cuomo | New York Times

The New York City Board of Elections voted unanimously on Tuesday to use lever voting machines for the mayoral primary election and the runoff that is expected to follow. The board’s action came a day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that authorized the return of the machines, which had been replaced in 2010 by more modern electronic voting devices. The measure signed by Mr. Cuomo also moves the date of the runoff to Oct. 1, from Sept. 24. “Using the lever machines gives us a much greater degree of confidence that we’ll be able to conduct a primary and runoff in the time frame appropriated,” said Steven H. Richman, the general counsel for the Board of Elections, who described the change as a “temporary, short-term accommodation.”

New York: Cuomo wants early voting in New York | Capital New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing early voting in New York State that “is at least one week long, and includes the weekend before a scheduled Election Day,” according to an outine of the governor’s State of the State speech distributed by his office today. The day before the legislative races last year, Cuomo announced a loosening of rules govering emergency ballots to help address needs facing residents displaced immediately after Hurricane Sandy.

Editorials: Gov. Cuomo and Campaign Finance Reform | NYTimes.com

Here’s one way Gov. Andrew Cuomo can match the acclaim he achieved by getting same-sex marriage approved in New York State: persuade the State Legislature to make New York’s system of electing legislators the fairest and most transparent in the country. Such a system should include a public financing mechanism modeled on New York City’s successful efforts to involve small donors with matching contributions. It would set sensible limits on individual and corporate contributions. It would close loopholes. It would be transparent and strictly enforced. By setting a national standard for public financing, New York State could go from laggard to leader.

New York: Digital signatures creating headaches for election officials | democratandchronicle.com

County election officials are running into an unexpected problem with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ new online voter registration system: faulty signatures. Without clear copies of voters’ signatures to compare to poll books, the identities of New Yorkers who registered online might be challenged on Election Day, elections officials said. Digital scans of applicants’ signatures “are not as crisp as we are used to getting, and they could be blurry. They could be distorted,” said Louis Babcock, Rockland County Republican election commissioner. “It could be brought into question by a poll inspector.” Uncertainty over a signature would not keep people from casting a vote, but it might require them to submit an affidavit ballot, which would allow commissioners time to obtain a better copy for verification, he said.

New York: Glitch found in N.Y.’s online voter registration tool | Press & Sun-Bulletin

County election officials are running into an unexpected problem with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ new online voter registration system: faulty signatures. Without clear copies of voters’ signatures to compare to the poll books, the identity of New Yorkers who registered online might be challenged on election day, elections officials said. Digital scans of applicants’ signatures “are not as crisp as we are used to getting, and they could be blurry. They could be distorted,” said Louis Babcock, Rockland County Republican election commissioner. “It could be brought into question by a poll inspector,” he said. Uncertainty over a signature would not keep people from casting a vote, but it might require them to submit an affidavit ballot, which would allow commissioners time to obtain a better copy for verification, Babcock said.

New York: Digital signatures creating headaches for election officials | democratandchronicle.com

County election officials are running into an unexpected problem with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ new online voter registration system: faulty signatures. Without clear copies of voters’ signatures to compare to poll books, the identities of New Yorkers who registered online might be challenged on Election Day, elections officials said. Digital scans of applicants’ signatures “are not as crisp as we are used to getting, and they could be blurry. They could be distorted,” said Louis Babcock, Rockland County Republican election commissioner. “It could be brought into question by a poll inspector.”

New York: New York Voters Crash Online Registration System | GovTech

When New York added the ability for voters to register online earlier this month, officials hoped it would add a lot of citizens to the state’s voter rolls. According to the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, fewer than 64 percent of eligible New York residents are currently registered to vote, which ranks the state 47th in the country in voter registration. The addition of the new online registration capability was especially timely, given the Aug. 19 deadline for those wishing to participate in the state’s primary election, scheduled for Sept. 13. “At the DMV, or in their own homes, New Yorkers will now have a convenient and secure way to ensure they are able to register and exercise their right to vote,” said Cuomo in a statement. And New Yorkers seem to have gotten the message. Twitter activity on Friday suggested that an influx of would-be voters brought the new system to its knees.

New York: State now allows online voter registration through DMV | WSJ.com

New York is joining 13 other states that allow voters to register online in an effort to improve voter turnout and save money. The initiative announced Thursday also expands opportunities for voters to register in languages other than English. In addition, voters will be able to update their addresses and party enrollments online. Ten states have had online voting dating back to 2001: Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. California, Connecticut and South Caroline have passed laws, but haven’t started online registration yet. Arizona reports more than 70 percent of voter registrations are done online since the state made the move in 2003, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona’s registrations claimed 9.5 percent from 2002 to 2004, while saving money on staff and paper registrations and increasing accuracy, the national conference said.

New York: Deal Near for Simplified Ballots | NYTimes.com

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers on Tuesday were nearing an agreement to simplify the much-criticized ballots used in the state’s elections. The new ballot would contain shorter instructions, without legal jargon, and would emphasize the names of candidates in clear, bold type. The proposed design, which was described by an official with direct knowledge of it, would also forbid more than two languages to be used on a ballot, allowing for larger and more legible text.

New York: Risks of the digital dotted line | Times Union

A state plan to allow motorists to register to vote electronically at the DMV — and eventually online — has triggered sharp push-back from local elections officials who fear it will make it harder to detect voter fraud. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration says those fears, which center largely on the use of digital signatures, are based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of how the process would work at state Department of Motor Vehicle sites. State and good-government groups contend the changes streamline the registration process and have been proved elsewhere as cheaper, more user-friendly and accurate. Despite the claims, elections officials in Albany County, which is to be a pilot site for the program expected to fully roll out next year, say they won’t accept the electronic registrations — even as the Cuomo administration argues that state law gives them no choice.

Editorials: How to beat Citizens United | E.J. Dionne/The Washington Post

We are about to have the worst presidential campaign money can buy. The Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United decision and a somnolent Federal Election Commission will allow hundreds of millions of dollars from a small number of very wealthy people and interests to inundate our airwaves with often vicious advertisements for which no candidate will be accountable. One would like to think that the court will eventually admit the folly of its 2010 ruling and reverse it. But we can’t wait that long. And out of this dreary landscape, hope is blossoming in the state of New York. There’s irony here, since New York is where a lot of the big national money is coming from. No matter. The state is considering a campaign finance law that would repair some of the Citizens United damage, and in a way the Supreme Court wouldn’t be able to touch.

New York: Redistricting Process Continues in Legal Purgatory | WNYC

Like a sequel to a horror movie most people never saw in the first place, New York’s redistricting saga continues to play out in court rooms and administrative offices from Washington, DC and Albany. Even before Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a compromised redistricting agreement with state legislators—which was ultimately a reversal on his promise to veto maps drawn by said legislators—legal activity surrounding the contentious redrawing of the state’s political boundaries has kept the compromise signed into law by the Governor from being the final word. The redistricting afterlife, it turns out, consists of three levels of political purgatory.

New York: Redistricting Battle Threatens to Leave New York Election Day in Chaos, Critics Say | DNAinfo.com

The drawn-out redistricting battle in Albany has paved the way for election day chaos in New York City, critics warn. As legislators and the courts finally wrap up the bitter fight over how to carve up the state following the latest census count, the city’s already-strained Board of Elections has been struggling to make preparations while voting districts were still in flux. “I don’t think they will be ready,” said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who is planning to outline her concerns about the board’s ability to be adequately prepared for the races in a letter addressed to the state’s Board of Elections later this week. Brewer, who chairs the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, said she has heard from staffers at the city board concerned about whether they’ll be ready for the petitioning process, which is set to kick off Tuesday, and then the state’s primaries, expected to take place June 26. “Nothing is clear. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Brewer said.

New York: Cuomo to sign New York Legislature’s redistricting plan | WSJ.com

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly majorities agreed Wednesday to enact the Legislature’s redistricting proposal as part of a long-term reform effort. The Senate Republican and Assembly Democratic majorities planned to pass the plan Wednesday night, despite condemnation from some good-government groups that the district lines were gerrymandered to protect the majorities’ political power and perks for the next 10 years. A senior administration official said Wednesday night that Cuomo will sign the measure, withdrawing his promised veto of any “hyper-partisan lines.” Cuomo ultimately traded his veto for a long-term overhaul through a constitutional amendment promised by legislative leaders. The senior administration official spoke on condition of anonymity because although the deal is sealed, the officials hadn’t yet announced it. Critics denounced Cuomo’s decision. As candidates in 2010, Cuomo and lawmakers promised independent redistricting.