Cuomo Confirms Special Election To Replace Convicted Rep. Chris Collins

Denis Slattery reports in the NY Daily News that “Gov. Cuomo set an April date Monday for special election to replace disgraced Rep. Chris Collins, pairing the contest with the state’s presidential primary and angering Republicans.

Collins, a Republican, resigned in September, one day before pleading guilty to charges of insider trading. Cuomo has hinted for months that he would choose April 28 as the day to let voters in the upstate district choose a replacement.”

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Assembly GOP Announces Advisory Redistricting Commission Members

As reported by Amanda Fries in the Times Union, “Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay on Monday revealed his picks for the commission, appointing Charles Nesbitt, a former Assembly Minority Leader, and Keith Wofford, an attorney and 2018 candidate for state Attorney General, to the panel.

Nesbitt, an Albion resident, was first elected to the state Assembly in 1992 and served as its Minority Leader from 2002 to 2005. He represented the 137th Assembly District, which is now the 139th District, serving parts of Orleans, Niagara, Genesee and Monroe counties. He also served as president of the New York Tax Appeals Tribunal in 2005 and as a councilman in Albion.

Wofford, a New York City resident, specializes in bankruptcy and financial cases as the co-managing partner of Ropes & Gray, LLP in New York City. He also ran on the Republican and Conservative lines for Attorney General in 2018.”

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NY Redistricting Advisory Commission Members Named

Legislative leaders began naming their members of the new state redistricting advisory commission late last week. The commission’s 8 legislative appointees will meet to appoint two additional members. Work begins in 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins appointed:

  • John Flateau, Ph.D.  a Professor and Chair of the Department of Business Administration at the School of Business, Medgar Evers College, CUNY. He holds over two decades of experience working as commissioner and census coordinator for New York State and the US Census Bureau, and previously served as Chief of Staff to New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins. John Flateau earned his Ph.D. focused in Political Science and Government from City University of New York.
  • David Imamura, an Attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton where his practice focuses on regulatory investigations and civil litigation. He is a co-author of Goldfeder’s Modern Election Law (6th edition), currently serves as a member of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission and the Westchester County Complete Count Committee.

Speaker Carl Heastie appointed:

Elaine Frazier, a lifelong public servant with over 30 years of service in the New York State Legislature, Division of the Budget, Office of the State Comptroller and her alma mater, SUNY College at Old Westbury. Since her retirement, she has volunteered as a member of the Juvenile Community Accountability Board, and in 2012, was as a member of the City of Albany Commission on Redistricting. Currently, she serves as board chair of the Capital Area Urban League and as a member of the Albany Task Force on Minority Health Disparities and the Commission on Transportation’s Equity Task Force. .

Eugene Benger, a counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Prior to joining the firm, he served as general counsel for Insurance in the New York Department of Financial Services and in various roles with the former New York Insurance Department. He also served as counsel to the Commission to Modernize the Regulation of Financial Services and as an assistant attorney general in the Litigation Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General.

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan appointed:

George H. Winner, Jr., who collectively served in the state Assembly and Senate for 32 years, and

Ed Lurie, the former executive director of the New York Republican State Committee and the New York Senate Republican Committee.

Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay’s appointments were not available as of today,



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Cuomo Wants $10M In Census Funding

In addition to $20 million authorized in the state’s current budget, Governor Cuomo is expected to ask the legislature for an addition $10 million in census funding when he presents his budget this week. According toNick Reisman, the Governor will also appoint a new census committee “to highlight the Census effort” chaired by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lucy Liu, and Martin Luther King III.

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Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation To Streamline Absentee Voting Process

Governor’s Press Release:

S.3135/A.2687 Ensures Absentee Ballots Match Election Day Ballots

S.2038A/A.1922 Ensures New, Simplified Absentee Ballot Applications Are Used in School District Elections

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to ensure absentee ballots match ballots used to vote in the district on Election Day (S.3135/A.2687) and that the new, simplified absentee ballot applications created in 2010 are used in school district elections (S.2038A/A.1922). 

“This year we enacted historic reforms to modernize our antiquated voting process and strengthen our election system,” Governor Cuomo said. “These measures build on that progress by ensuring absentee ballots match the ballots that in-person voters use on Election Day and simplified absentee ballot applications are used in school district elections, making it easier for voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” 

Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “We don’t pull levers in the voting booth anymore, so our ballots shouldn’t be designed for lever pulling. This legislation gets rid of dated ballot formats so that our absentee ballots match our primary ballots and helps ensure our democracy works. I commend the Governor for supporting this legislation and look forward to its implementation.” 

Assembly Member Fred Thiele said, “I am thrilled that the Governor has signed my legislation (A.2687) to update the law and ensure that Election Day ballots and absentee ballots match. This, along with his approval of legislation to simplify absentee ballots used in school district elections (A.1922) continues the trend of making voting easier and more accessible for all New Yorkers. Voting is the inalienable right of every American but also a hallmark of our values and democracy. I am pleased to work with the Governor to advance these important voting reform measures.” 

Senator David Carlucci said, “Working with my colleagues, we have brought New York’s outdated election laws into the 21st century to increase voter turnout by removing barriers to vote. My legislation to simply the absentee voting process in school district elections will ensure everyone’s voices are heard. Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this reform into law.” 

Assembly Member Sandy Galef said, “When New York reformed the absentee ballot process in 2010, school district elections were left out. As a result, voters using absentee ballots for school district elections had to use outdated, cumbersome absentee voting forms. This new law makes the absentee ballot process less intrusive, and it is my hope that it will help to increase voter turnout in New York State.” 

S.3135/A.2687 goes into effect immediately. S.2038A/A.1922 will take effect in 90 days. 

A key goal of the Governor’s 2019 Justice Agenda is to modernize New York’s voting laws to increase voter participation. On October 26, early voting went into effect for the first time, making it easier for New York voters to participate in elections without logistical burdens. These reforms will allow for eight days of early voting before an election, synchronize federal and state primary elections, allow voter preregistration for teenagers, provide voter registration portability within the state, and close the LLC loophole. 

In September, Governor Cuomo also signed legislation expediting party enrollment changes to make it easier for voters to participate in the upcoming primary elections. This removed the October 11 deadline and gives voters until February 14 to make changes to party enrollment and still vote in the April presidential and June congressional and state primaries. 


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Campaign Panel’s Proposal Threatens New York’s Minor Parties

Chris Bragg in the Times Union: “Drawing howls of protest from minor political parties and good-government groups, the commission empowered with rewriting state campaign laws voted Monday to make it substantially more difficult for minor parties to secure a place on the state ballot.

The nine-member commission’s main charge, conferred on it by the Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this year, has been to write rules establishing New York’s new publicly financed elections system. But the debate over its redesign of the “fusion voting” system, which gives third parties the ability to cross-endorse candidates if they hit the certain vote thresholds, has sucked up much of the public attention to its work.”


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Public Financing Coalition Wants Session To Change Recommendations

In State of Politics,Nick Reisman reports “Groups that have pushed for the public financing of campaigns wants state lawmakers to return before the end of the year and take up what it says are necessary changes to the recommendations proposed by a commission responsible for the specifics of the program.

The coalition, Fair Elections NY, broadly are seeking lower contribution limits than the caps of $18,000 for statewide office, $10,000 for the state Senate and $6,000 for the state Assembly, as proposed by the commission.”

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