Monthly Archives: March 2016

NYC Growth Slows, Upstate Loses People In Latest US Census

From CBS News,  “New York City’s growth rate slowed last year but still offset upstate losses as the state’s population nudged higher, according to census figures released Thursday.

The latest annual estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the cityadding 55,211 people in the year before July 2015, for a population of 8.55 million. The city-wide growth rate of 0.6 percent last year was the lowest this decade, according to an analysis of the estimates by Jan Vink of Cornell University’s Program on Applied Demographics.

In contrast, upstate New York lost 16,596 people over the year, a 0.24 percent decrease. Only six of 52 upstate counties added people over the year, all growing less than 1 percent.”


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Erie County Voter Registrations Surge Ahead Of New York Primary

The Buffalo News reports that “voter registrations are surging in Erie County in anticipation of the most significant New York presidential primaries in a generation on April 19.”

Jerry Zremski writes that “Friday is the last day to register to vote before the primary, and voters can only do that by mail, given that the Erie County Board of Elections is closed for Good Friday.

But as of midday Thursday, Democrats – who long have held a huge registration advantage in the county – had registered 3,345 new voters in the county since Dec. 1 of last year, up from 1,237 from the same period a year earlier. Republicans, meanwhile, registered 1,606 new voters, up from 776 a year earlier.”

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NY Court Dismisses Cruz Challenge

In Newsday, Yancey Roy reports that “a  mid-level court Thursday rejected an attempt to disqualify Sen. Ted Cruz from New York’s Republican presidential primary because he was born in Canada.

In a 5-0 ruling, the Appellate Division unanimously dismissed the lawsuit because it was filed too late to be considered,upholding a lower court decision. The appellate court never addressed Cruz’ (R-Tex.) citizenship status.”

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Rubio and Bush Off NY Ballot; Carson Remains

Mike McAndrew reports in the Syracuse Post Standard that “Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who suspended their presidential campaigns, removed their names from New York’s primary ballot by the deadline Tuesday, but Ben Carson didn’t.

So New York Republicans will be able to vote for four candidates on April 19: businessman Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Carson, a neurosurgeon who suspended his campaign March 4 after failing to win in any states.”

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Governor: Unprecedented 40,000 New voter Applications Filed


DMV’s Online Voter Registration System Sets New One-Day Record with Nearly 14,000 Applications Received on March 18

Deadline Rapidly Approaching to Register in Time for the April Presidential Primary

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an unprecedented surge in last-minute online voter registration activity less than one month before the New York State presidential primary. Between March 10 and March 20, MyDMV, the state’s first and only online voter registration system, processed more than 40,883 voter registration applications, including 20,889 from first-time voters. MyDMV also set an all-time record on Friday, March 18 with 13,961 voter registration applications received, including 7,128 from first-time voters. New Yorkers must register by March 25 in order to cast ballots in the upcoming presidential primaries on April 19.

“Our online voter registration portal is key in this administration’s efforts to knock down barriers to democracy and encourage more participation in the electoral process,” Governor Cuomo said. “I encourage anyone who needs to register, or update their information, to join the growing number of New Yorkers using this simple and convenient tool to ensure their eligibility to vote in the upcoming presidential primaries.”

By following a few simple steps, New Yorkers can easily sign up for a secure MyDMV account and register to vote or access a variety of other services like updating a home address. To create an account, individuals must use their New York State driver license, permit or non-driver ID, last four digits of their Social Security Number, and the ZIP code currently listed on their driver license, permit, or non-driver ID record. Upon completion, DMV sends the voter registration applications to the County Boards of Elections for action. New Yorkers can use the New York State Board of Elections’ website to check their voter registration status.

New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, “Business is definitely picking up on the MyDMV voter registration website and we couldn’t be more pleased with these results. Casting a ballot to vote on the future of our country is one of the most fundamentally important things we can do as Americans. There’s still time left to register and I encourage anyone who has yet to do so to visit the MyDMV website today.”

To register to vote, a New Yorker must:

  • · Be a United States citizen.
  • · Be 18 years old by December 31 of the year in which you submit the form (note: you must be 18 years old by the date of the general, primary or other election in which you want to vote).
  • · Live at your present address at least 30 days before an election.
  • · Not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.
  • · Not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court.
  • · Not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

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NYC City Council Recommends Election Reforms To State Legislature

As part of its comprehensive  2016 legislative priorities report book presented to the state legislature yesterday, the NYC Council recommends the following proposals to the state legislature:

New York City Council Election Reform Priorities

VOTER EMPOWERMENT ACT OF NEW YORK (A5972) The City Council supports legislation to streamline the voter registration process. The Voter Empowerment Act would create automatic voter registration of eligible consenting citizens at designated government agencies; institute online registration and online access to registration records; permit the pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds; permit automatic transfers of registration of New Yorkers who move within the State; and move the deadlines for registration and party enrollment closer to the date of the election. The abovementioned reforms would make voter registration significantly more convenient for New Yorkers and increase their chances of participating in elections. CONSOLIDATE FEDERAL & STATE PRIMARY ELECTIONS The 2009 Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act requires that absentee ballots for uniformed service members and U.S. citizens residing outside the United States be mailed no later than 45 days before a federal election. While New York is in compliance with the MOVE Act for 25 federal elections, state election law does not currently meet these requirements. By stipulating that primary elections for state and local offices shall be held in September, current state election law potentially disenfranchises overseas and military voters and forces local boards of election to administer multiple primary elections, which depresses voter turnout and costs local governments millions of dollars in unnecessary costs. Therefore, City Council urges the State Legislature to enact legislation consolidating primary elections for federal, state, and local offices in the month of June, thus protecting the franchise for our men and women in uniform and American citizens living abroad.

INSTANT RUNOFF ELECTIONS (A5571) The City Council calls upon the State Legislature to pass legislation that would create an instant runoff voting system for citywide primary elections. The 2013 municipal election cycle contained three election dates: the primary election on September 10th, the runoff election on October 1st, and the general election on November 5th. The runoff election was required under state law, which requires a runoff primary election for a citywide elected office when no candidate for that office receives 40 percent of the vote. Because no Democratic candidate for Public Advocate received more than 40 percent of the vote, a runoff election was held at a cost of $13 million – more than the cumulative budget of the Public Advocate’s office over 4 years. Moreover, the possibility of a runoff election for any office that year led to the use of lever voting machines during the primaries out of concern that the NYC Board of Elections would not have enough turnaround time to use the electronic scanners. An alternative to this wasteful use of resources would be to institute instant runoff voting, whereby voters rank candidates for office in the order of their preference rather than casting a ballot for a single candidate. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate who receives the fewest votes is eliminated and those ballots are counted as votes for the candidate ranked second. If no candidate has a majority at that point, the process continues until a candidate has a majority of votes. This system would eliminate the need for a separate runoff election and has been endorsed by many good-government groups as more efficient and democratic.

EARLY VOTING (A8582A/S3813B) The City Council urges the State Legislature to pass legislation establishing early voting in New York State. During the last several presidential elections, many polling sites across New York City were plagued by long lines and other irregularities, resulting in the disenfranchisement of voters who left their poll sites without voting. The reason for many of these irregularities is that presidential elections have a significantly higher turnout than other elections, causing poll sites to become overwhelmed. One of the most often cited recommendations to deal with this issue is to establish early voting, since doing so would reduce the number of people voting on election day, thereby reducing overcrowding. In states that have early voting, as many as 50 to 60 percent of voters have chosen to vote early, thus helping to avoid many of the problems experienced by our own city during high-turnout elections.

CLOSE NEW YORK STATE’S LLC LOOPHOLE FOR CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS Pursuant to a 1996 opinion of the NYS Board of Elections, limited liability corporations (LLCs) are – for the purposes of campaign contributions – treated like individuals and thus allowed to contribute more than 12 times more to political campaigns than their corporate and partnership counterparts. This loophole reduces the effectiveness of the State’s campaign finance laws. The City Council 26 supports efforts to close this loophole, thereby strengthening the State’s campaign finance system and creating a more fair and transparent election system.

STATE LEVEL PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCE The current New York State campaign contribution limit for an individual giving to a candidate running in a primary and general election for statewide office is up to $65,100, and between $8,800 and $18,000 for a candidate running for state legislative office, as compared to $5,400 for a candidate running for federal office. The New York State contribution limit for direct corporate contributions to candidates is $5,000, as compared to an absolute ban on such contributions under New York City and federal law. New York State’s current contribution limits, combined with the lack of a public campaign financing system, have the potential to hinder electoral competition and increase the risk or appearance of corruption by allowing wealthy individuals and corporations to spend large amounts to fund political campaigns. Public campaign financing provides candidates with resources to run competitive races, improves election transparency through more stringent disclosure requirements, and reduces the risk of corruption and the appearance of impropriety by decreasing the potential for undue influence from wealthy contributors. The City Council urges the State Legislature to establish a public campaign finance system for state elections.

SAME-DAY VOTER REGISTRATION (A5891/S2391) New York State consistently has one of the lowest voter turnout rates, ranking 49th among states in the 2014 midterm elections. Among other obstacles, missing registration deadlines can cause potential voters to lose their opportunity to vote. Evidence shows that same-day voter registration, already enacted by 15 states and the District of Columbia, increases voter turnout. For example, 4 of the top 5 states for voter turnout for the 2012 presidential election had same-day registration. Furthermore, from 1980 to 2012 the average turnout rate for presidential elections in states with same-day registration was 10.3 percent higher than that of states with registration deadlines. The City Council supports enacting same-day registration in New York to increase voter participation.

NO-EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING A 2010 U.S. Census Bureau survey cited “no time off/too busy” as the most common reason for not voting. Currently, New York State limits voting by absentee ballot to a small group of voters who are unable to vote on Election Day: those who will be out of town, ill, disabled, detained in jail or hospital, or have primary caretaker responsibilities of someone who is disabled. Allowing no-excuse absentee voting would increase voter participation by creating a voting period of more than one day and the convenience of voting from home. Therefore, the City Council supports allowing no-excuse absentee voting.

A copy of the complete report, provided by Politico NY,  can be accessed at:

Click to access NYS%20Legislative%20Agenda-Final_1.pdf

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State Bar Association Recommends Voting Reforms

From the New York State Bar Association on March 14:

The New York State Bar Association urges the state Legislature to enact measures within budget bills that would modernize the voter registration process and allow voters to cast ballots prior to the traditional Election Day.

March 31 is the deadline for passage of the 2016-17 state budget.

“Measures to remove barriers to registration and voting and to encourage participation, while maintaining the integrity of the process, could go a long way to improving civic engagement and enhancing our democracy,” said State Bar President David P. Miranda of Albany (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti). New York is frequently ranked among the states with the lowest voter participation rates in the nation.

“Over the years, the Legislature has imposed numerous and detailed requirements for registration of voters. As a result, more than 100 sections of the state Election Law—virtually all of which were written before the age of computers and the Internet—address issues relating to registration,” Miranda said.

A 2012 report by the Association’s Special Committee on Voter Participation, formed by then-President Seymour W. James, Jr., identified a number of ways to modernize New York’s voter registration process—as well as numerous other recommendations, including authorizing a form of in-person early voting. The full report is available at:

“The practice of affording voters the option of voting in person earlier than Election Day has proved to be extremely popular in other states and we would expect it to be welcomed by those in New York,” Miranda wrote in a recent letter to legislative leaders. “In-person early voting makes it easier for many voters to get to the polls and, for some, it permits them more time on a non-working day to consider the ballot and then vote more carefully.”

The Association commends Governor Andrew Cuomo for proposing changes in the voter registration process and for proposing authorization of early voting. Miranda, in his March 4, 2016 letter to the legislative leaders, urged the Legislature to adopt the type of proposals submitted by the Governor. This letter is available at


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Guide To The NY Constitutional Convention Process

NYPIRG and the League of Women Voters have published a handy short guide to the state constitutional convention process. It’s worth a read and a download. You can access it here:

Click to access con_con_merged_final.pdf

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Sheldon Silver Resigns As Democratic Super Delegate

Aaron Short reports in the New York Post reports that Sheldon Silver, the convicted former Assembly Speaker, has resigned as a super delegate to the 2016 Democratic Convention. Silver had been a New York member of the Democratic National Committee and all DNC members become automatic delegates. It’s assumed Silver is no longer a DNC member.

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LLC Loophole Appeal Expected

We can expect an appeal of the  “court ruling on Wednesday that dismissed a case seeking to do away with the so-called “LLC loophole” in election law.

That’s according to Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. The Brennan Center, which is part of New York University Law School, is the lead plaintiff in the case.

“We still have to discuss it with our all clients, but we believe there is a good chance on appeal,” Norden said via phone. Norden said that the Brennan Center and a law firm that’s also a party in the case, Emery, Celli and Brinckerhoff, are “raring to go.” Other supporting parties seeking to do with the LLC loophole include SUNY New Paltz Prof. Gerald Benjamin, and three New York City Democrats.”


Read more in Chris Bragg’s coverage.

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