New York state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have gotten a lot of flack for the state's convoluted voting rules, particularly in the wake of last year's primary. But that's another difference between red and blue states: red states want to make it more difficult and burdensome to vote, blue states want to make voting easier and more streamlined so as many people can participate as possible, and Cuomo is promising major voting reforms ahead of 2018's contests.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday a new proposal meant to make it easier for all New Yorkers to vote, which will in turn shorten lines at the polls and increase accuracy when ballots are counted. That proposal is called the “Democracy Project.”
It will allow early voting and institute automatic and same-day voter registration, thus streamlining voter services and making it simpler for all eligible citizens to vote and eliminate possible voting inaccuracies.
“These proposals will modernize and open up our election system, making it easier for more voters to participate in the process and helping to make a more fair, more just and more representative New York for all,” Cuomo said in a news release.
New early voting policy will require every county to offer access to at least one early voting site during the 12 days before Election Day, according to a news release. At least eight hours on weekdays and five hours on the weekend will be devoted to keeping voting sites open for this purpose.
There must be one early voting site per 50,000 residents and the location must be chosen by the bipartisan county board of elections, according to a news release. Location will be determined based on accessibility and convenience.
Early voting aims to increase access to the polls and make it easier for people with commitments to take the time to vote. That also means shorter lines on Election Day and makes it easier for poll workers to deal with registration errors as they arise.
The project also aims to simplify DMV services by automatically sending voter information from DMV applications directly to the County Board of Elections, according to a news release. Those who do not wish to register can simply check an “opt out” box on their application.
Citizens can already register to vote at the DMV but often face a number of regulations that slow down the process and create errors on voter rolls. Automatic registration aims to improve the accuracy of voter rolls and registration lists, increase convenience for voters and election officials alike and reduce total costs associated with the process.
Same-day voter registration will also go into effect as part of the project. New Yorkers will be able to register and vote on the same day and avoid deadlines before Election Day that could potentially keep them from registering in time.
Imagine that. Some simple fixes to get people registered so that they can participate in the voting process where they live, but I guarantee you Republicans are screaming bloody murder right now because they know they do better when fewer people are allowed to vote.
Again, in a representative democracy like our own, making rules to add burdens to the citizen in order to vote, rather than putting the onus on the state, is unconscionable. The state, not the citizen, is responsible for running a smooth, free, and fair election. I'm very glad to see Gov. Cuomo propose these measures and I definitely hope New York can implement them in time for 2018 midterms.