Helping NY’s voters

The newly elected Democratic majority in the New York State Senate passed long-stymied electoral reforms on Jan. 14 that will propel our state toward its rightful place as a progressive beacon for the rest of the United States.

New York has long been plagued by an antiquated registration process, confusing deadlines and long lines to vote. Not coincidentally, New York has had some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country, according to data compiled by the United States Elections Project. Every Election Day has fallen far short of what New Yorkers deserve from their democracy.

At last, things will start to get easier for voters. Beginning this year, New York joins 37 other states that offer early voting. Elections will include a 10-day period of early voting that closes at the end of the second day before the election. When voters move, their voter registration information will be automatically updated. Beginning in 2020, young people will be able to preregister to vote as early as age 16 so when they walk into the voting booth at age 18, they’re already set. Significantly, state and federal primaries will be scheduled on the same day, vastly simplifying the election process.

These reforms should help ameliorate New York’s abysmal voter turnout. They are only possible because of the new Democratic majority that controls the Senate, a result in part of the hard work of UFT election volunteers.

But there’s still more to be done. New York State voters need more flexibility to change party affiliation, and parolees deserve to have their voting rights restored.

Just as the UFT helped set the stage for the reforms passed in January, we’ll continue to fight for voter rights that will result in a better democracy for all New Yorkers.

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