Monthly Archives: February 2016

State BOE Receives Flurry Of ‘Natural-Born’ Objections To Rubio, Cruz

In the Times Union, Casey Seiler reports “the state Board of Elections has received three objections contesting the “natural-born” citizenship of presidential candidates and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and/or Marco Rubio submitted in hopes of knocking them off the April 19 Republican primary ballot.

Cruz was born in Canada, though his mother was a U.S. citizen (his father was at the time a Cuban citizen); Cruz finally shed his Canadian dual citizenship in 2014. Rubio was born in Miami, though neither of his parents were at the time naturalized U.S. citizens.”

The New York State Board of Elections was served with the first lawsuit challenging the qualifications of Ted Cruz to appear on the presidential primary ballot. 

 The State Board may seek to dismiss the challenge because of the failure to name and serve the candidate as a necessary party as required by New York case law.

The justice who signed the order to show cause changed the venue from New York County to Albany County.

The order to show cause is returnable on February 26.

The state election commissioners will address the issue when it rules on ballot challenges for the presidential primary on February 23. The New York presidential primary is scheduled for April 19, 2016.

The Order To Show Cause can be read here:Korman v NYSBOE

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Tompkins County Legislature Supports Early Voting In New York State

Ithaca’s WENY reports “The Tompkins County Legislature has voted in favor of a resolution that would make voting easier by giving people more than one day to head to the polls.

The resolution comes as a reaction to provisions in Governor Cuomo’s budget that would create early voting in New York State. It has not been enacted yet.

The legislature passed the resolution in support by a vote of 9 to 3. (Legislators  Dave McKenna, Glenn Morey and Dooley Kiefer voted no; Legislators Mike Sigler and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne were excused)

The legislature’s resolution notes that early voting makes it easier for residents to vote.  Voting sites would open about 12 days prior to all special, primary, and general elections.  It would not apply for village or school district elections.”

– See more at:

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Klein Says Board Of Elections Probe Based On ‘Bogus Claim’

Chris Bragg updates yesterday’s story on the Senate IDC campaign finance inquiry in the Times Union. From the article:

“In a radio interview on Wednesday morning, Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein explained why he believes a state Board of Elections investigation into a campaign group founded by the Klein-led, five-member Independent Democratic Conference stems from a “bogus claim.”

As the Times Union reported this morning, the group, the IDC Initiative, has spent $65,000 in campaign cash on two election attorneys since Mar. 2015 in relation to the inquiry. The probe, by the Board of Elections’ independent enforcement office, stemmed from a complaint filed by a 2014 state Senate candidate, former New York City Comptroller John Liu, who was running in a Democratic primary against Queens state Sen. Tony Avella, an IDC member.

“This was a bogus claim made by John Liu, which is kind of ironic because his career was destroyed by campaign finance violations,” Klein said Wednesday on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter.”

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Probe Into Senate IDC’s Campaign Efforts

Chris Bragg reports in the Times Union that “the state Board of Elections launched an inquiry last year into a campaign group created by the Independent Democratic Conference, a key five-member bloc in the state Senate led by Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein, theTimes Union has learned.

Campaign finance records show that since March 2015, the group — called the IDC Initiative — spent about $65,000 on campaign finance attorneys. The sum represents about 63 percent of its total spending in 2015.”

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The Biggest State Level Campaign Donors Of 2015

Bill Mahoney takes a  look at the state’s top political contributors in Politico:

“The 25 largest donors to state-level politicians and political parties last year included several hedge fund managers, labor unions and a PAC controlled by a former leader of the Senate.

The donors, topped by hedge funder Stanley Druckenmiller, the Trial Lawyers Association and the health care union 1199SEIU, combined to contribute $10 million, according to a POLITICO New York analysis of state Board of Elections records. This falls below the total from 2013, when the 25 biggest donors contributed $11.9 million.
Notably, the number of real estate firms at the top of the list has dropped dramatically. Four New York City developers cracked the top 25 in 2013 but only one, Howard Milstein, an ally to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, made it in 2015.”

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NYC Lawmakers Oppose Gov. Cuomo’s Plan To Boost Voter Registration

In the Daily News, Glenn Blain reports “Gov. Cuomo’s plan to boost voter registration in New York is meeting resistance from city lawmakers who fear it will reduce the Big Apple’s political clout, the Daily News has learned.

Cuomo’s plan — which calls for drivers to be automatically registered to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license — could spur big registration numbers in the motorist-rich suburbs and upstate but do relatively little for the city, which has fewer drivers, lawmakers said.”

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Speaker Mark Viverito Advocates Voting Reforms

City Council President Melissa Mark Viverito outlined her voting reform agenda in her State Of The City address today. From her office:

Ease the Voting Process:
Unfortunately, many people do not exercise their right to vote. In the 2014 midterm elections, New York State ranked 49th in the nation for voter participation—only 29% of eligible voters voted. In New York City, only 20% of eligible voters cast ballots, hitting an historic low. Part of the blame for low voter turnout rests with New York State’s antiquated voting laws, which have failed to keep up with improvements to registration and voting accessibility seen in other jurisdictions. 

 Today, Speaker Mark-Viverito proposed sweeping changes to engage and support New York City’s youth and ensure that they have a voice in governance. 

The most significant reforms are only possible at the State level, and today, the Speaker called on the State take the bold steps necessary to modernize New York’s registration and voting policies, including implementing automatic registration, preregistering youth, establishing early voting, allowing for same-day voter registration, and facilitating absentee voting. 

The Council will call on the State to enact: 

• The Voter Empowerment Act (A.5972 Kavanagh/S.2538B Gianaris), which would enact reforms including automatic agency-based registration, online registration as a universal option, pre-registration of 16- and 17-year olds, and moving the registration deadline closer to Election Day.

• Early voting, which would allow voting prior to Election Day.

• A constitutional amendment to allow same-day voter registration.

• A constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting, so any registered voter can vote absentee in-person or by mail.

At the City level, the Council will also work to ease the process of registering and voting by pursuing new initiatives:

• The Online Voter Information Portal and App will be a one-stop shop for voter information, where users can find the absentee ballot application; track their absentee ballot’s status; look up their voting history, registration status, party enrollment, and sample ballots; find polling hours, their polling place, and the voter guide; and sign up to be a poll worker. 

• Voter Notifications through Email and Text Messaging will provide voters with the option of receiving e-mail and/or text message notifications about elections, including much of the information contained in the Online Information Portal and App. Text messages have been used to engage voters and drive turnout in the Council’s participatory budgeting efforts.

• Notice on Former Poll Sites will require formerly used poll sites to have posted notices directing voters to their new site. 

In order to empower New York City’s youth and increase their participation in government, the Council will:

• Fund civic engagement programs, so that high school and college students move from civic theory to civic action, advocating for their points of view on real-world issues affecting their communities. 

• Expand Student Voter Registration Days in New York City’s high schools, with the goal of registering 10,000 students to vote. This will expand the Council’s current initiative that funds student voter registration and engagement at 56 high schools to 125 high schools. 

• Establish the New York City Social Justice Postgraduate Fellowship, an exciting new program to place diverse and talented graduates of professional and graduate schools in full-time, year-long positions in City government. This Fellowship will harness the passion of young New Yorkers, including social workers, lawyers and policy analysts, who want to make a difference in their communities. 



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