Common Cause/NY on Gov Hochul’s State of the State

On January 9, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her State of the State which included the creation of an Office of Service and Civic Engagement and expansion of voting efforts on college campuses. In response, Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY, released the following statement:

“Common Cause/NY is pleased to see the state rededicating itself to the twin values of public service and civic life: both of which are core to reversing the serious attacks on democracy our country has suffered. But this is just a start. As we head into the 2024 election cycle, state lawmakers and the governor must take seriously the impending threats to our democracy. They must strengthen New York’s election administration and protect voters in this year’s budget.”

Common Cause New York’s legislative priorities:

Expand voting rights and invest in our elections

  • New York is one of the few states that does not provide consistent nor significant state funding for election administration. An annual dedicated budget line should be created to support local Boards of Elections efforts to smoothly hold elections.
  • Allow New Yorkers to provide water and snacks to voters at poll sites or while in line to vote. (S616 Myrie/A1346 Simon)
  • Guarantee the use of voter verifiable paper ballots in elections. (A5934B Cunningham/S6169A Cleare)
  • New York should join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization of states that share voter roll data to maintain more accurate voter rolls. (S6173A Skoufis/A7052B Silitti)
  • Provide funding to allow Boards of Elections to directly remind voters they can now vote by mail.
  • Move New York City’s municipal elections to even years. New York’s local elections suffer from low turnout during a very off year election. Moving local elections to an even year, either during congressional or presidential elections, would increase voter participation.
  • Uniform procedures for voting while in jail. Citizens who are in jail have the right to vote, but are often prevented from voting because the local jurisdiction in control of the jail has no procedures in place.

Protect our democracy

  • New York must move quickly to repeal our Article V Resolutions. Article V resolutions are aged legislative resolutions calling for a federal constitutional convention. These old resolutions do not by their terms have any expiration date. Extremist entities seeking to call a constitutional convention to hobble the federal government argue that these old resolutions should be counted and include New York in the total count of states calling for a constitutional convention bringing the total above the needed 34 states. (B477 Krueger/K137 Zebrowski)
  • Increase candidate disclosures. Voters deserve to have elected officials who tell the truth. Candidates will have to disclose their military service, recent employment history, education and confirm their in-district residence. (A5358-A Sillitti/S5884-A Liu)
  • Protect against Deep Fake campaign ads. Voters are entitled to honest campaign ads and materials. Placing clear, enforceable disclosures on campaign materials with altered images, video or audio warns voters to be wary of the altered material, protecting voters and candidates.
  • Allow for nonpartisan poll monitors during in-person voting. (A2408-A Paulin/S5193-A Skoufis). Nonpartisan monitors will assist voters and help problem solve. This will increase confidence in the integrity and transparency of our elections.
  • Board of Elections reform. Professionalizing and reducing partisanship in election administration is an essential component to improving our elections.

Strengthen campaign laws

  • Reduce the corrosiveness of money in politics and enhance public trust in our government by passing:
    • S2362 Rivera/A6542 Carroll: which would increase employer disclosure requirements for campaign contributions
    • S6247 Myrie/A7179 McDonald: prohibit campaign contributions from individuals or organizations while bidding on state contracts.