In the New York Daily News, Jillian Jorgensen reports “Councilman Mark Treyger wants the city to provide more interpreters speaking more languages at poll sites on election days — and to actually let them in the door.
Treyger will introduce legislation Wednesday to require the city Voter Assistance Advisory Committee to set up a program to provide interpreters speaking the 10 most-spoken tongues at poll sites where they are needed — a measure he hopes will end the Board of Elections practice of treating the interpreters as electioneers and keeping them 100 feet from the entrance to a voting location.”
In the Times Union, Chris Bragg reports “A new coalition pushing for publicly funded elections in New York has an unusual composition: It includes organizations whose explicit aim is electing Democrats and defeating Republicans, and also several bipartisan nonprofit groups, which by law cannot engage in electoral politicking.”
In Newsday, Yancey Roy reports “(W)ith a new-look State Legislature arriving in Albany, an old and oft-criticized New York political practice could be on the way out.
New York could cease to be one of the few states in the union that allow political candidates to appear on multiple ballot lines through the use of “fusion voting,” or cross-endorsements.”
From Tom Precious in the Buffalo News:
“As Republicans fretted last week over the string of Election Day losses that flipped the state Senate to Democratic Party control, they might seek solace in a not-so-small dose of reality.
The Republicans should have lost the Senate at least 10 years ago and, in fact, probably a lot longer ago than that were it not for the state’s arcane way of determining how legislative seats are drawn.
Thanks to the state redistricting system – one of the nation’s most adept at gerrymandering and protecting parties – the Senate GOP decade after decade aggressively re-drew Senate district lines in ways meant solely to protect their power in the Senate.”
Brad Karp and Robert Atkins’ article about the importance of voting is a welcome reminder to the legal community of our role in preserving the rule of law (“Democracy Itself is On the Ballot,” N.Y.L.J., Oct. 26, p.6). Unfortunately, New York has trailed behind in voting access.
Thirty-seven states have early voting; New York does not. Twelve states and Washington D.C. have automatic registration; we have an unnecessarily long waiting period before new registrations or change in party enrollment take effect. Twenty-six states and D.C. permit no-excuse absentee voting; New Yorkers must attest to illness or absence from their county to exercise this basic voting procedure. And fifteen cities and the state of Maine have Instant run-off elections; for city-wide primaries in New York City, we have costly, low-turnout run-off elections.
As the outgoing chair of the New York City Affairs Committee of the New York City Bar Association, I recently testified at the City Council’s Charter Revision Commission, proposing that it adopt our “Democracy Agenda”—mandating early voting, enhanced registration and enrollment opportunities, no-excuse absentee voting and instant run-off for our municipal elections. Without having to wait any longer for Albany to enact these reforms, the city should exercise its state constitutional and statutory authority to do so on its own. That is how we achieved the finest campaign finance law in the nation, term limits, non-partisan vacancy elections and more liberalized ballot access requirements.
As the Charter Commission meets throughout the next year to consider various ways to improve city government, the bar has the opportunity to play an active role in supporting voting and other reforms
From Ross Barkan in City & State: “New York City’s election administration was a typically embarrassing and disheartening spectacle on Tuesday. Long lines greeted voters across the city as ballot scanners failed and overwhelmed poll workers struggled to handle growing crowds. At times, it wasn’t clear if the throngs at polling places could be attributed to interest in the election or just the absence of functioning machines and the incompetence of poll workers. Unable to endure the wait and afraid to arrive late at work, some potential voters left, having been effectively disenfranchised.”