New Yorkers deserve free, fair and secure voting. But unlike many other states, New York’s antiquated laws discourage voting and deny citizens the freedom to vote. We’re a national leader on many issues but still have some of the worst voting laws in the country. Let NY Vote (formerly Easy Elections NY) is a statewide coalition effort between grassroots and grasstops organizations, established community groups and newly energized activists, civil rights groups and religious leaders, unions and good government groups — who all realize that what we share in common is the need to reform New York’s voting system. All of the issues that we’re fighting for travel through the vote, so expanding and protecting our freedom to vote helps us secure civil rights, immigrants’ rights, reproductive rights, a clean environment, good jobs, and justice and safety in all of our communities.
The mission of the Coalition is to improve our elections by making registering and voting secure, fair and accessible for all New Yorkers. We envision a more inclusive and representative democracy for New York State, where unnecessary barriers to voting have been eliminated and our elections modernized.
Let NY Vote is pushing for these 5 simple measures New York can enact to protect and expand the freedom to vote for every eligible New Yorker.
- Early Voting: 37 states have early voting, but New York doesn’t. This makes it difficult for working New Yorkers to vote and suppresses voter turnout. New York consistently has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. Early voting would allow all registered NY voters the opportunity to vote. It also reduces long lines at the polls and saves time and money.
- Automatic Voter Registration: 10 states and D.C. have automatic voter registration but New York doesn’t. Automatic voter registration is key to increasing participation and amplifying citizens’ voices in the process. AVR would increase the reliability and security of voting rolls, reduce human error and chances of fraud, and help voter turnout. Ten states and D.C. have adopted AVR – many along bipartisan lines – to successful results. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission released a report in 2017 showing Oregon’s automatic voter registration law has added 375,000 new voters to the rolls in just 18 months – a 12% increase in the state’s registered voters.
- Flexibility to Change Party Affiliation: 49 States have open primaries or allow change of party close to Election Day. New York has neither. Flexibility is necessary to give voters time to make an informed decision. NY has the most restrictive deadline in the country. To participate in the 2016 primary, voters had to register this change more than 6 months earlier, before candidates had even been solidified, disenfranchising up to 3 million registered New York voters.
- Electronic Poll Books: 34 states have instituted electronic pollbooks but New York hasn’t. Electronic pollbooks would be a secure system to reduce error in the voting process, improve election-day check-in and cut down on long lines at polling places. It would also allow for quick updating of voter rolls and reduce rush errors, resulting in better managed, more accurate lists, and save time and money.
- Restore Voting Rights for People on Parole: 16 states and D.C. restore voting rights post-incarceration, but New York doesn’t. New Yorkers on parole are currently denied the right to vote, despite raising families and paying taxes. Nearly 50,000 eligible citizens on parole, 3/4 of whom are Black or Latinx, are prevented from casting a ballot. Re-enfranchisement helps both the individual and the community.
In order for our system to work, every eligible citizen should be able to participate. NY State’s current system doesn’t support this, and it’s time to change that.
To learn more about the Let NY Vote and how you can get involved, please visit letnyvote.org.