NEW YORK (AP / 1010 WINS / WCBS 880) — A group of elected officials and voting advocates said New York is among the least voter-friendly states in the nation and called for reforms like early voting, same-day registration and allowing New Yorkers to fill out ballots at home.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several state legislators joined civic groups and activists Monday at City Hall, citing New York’s ranking as 47th among the states in average voter turnout for the last three state and federal election cycles.
“When it comes to voting laws, New York state’s are the most restrictive and most outdated in the enitre country,” Bloomberg said. “All of us are here to say the time has come to change that.”
To increase voter participation, the group wants New York to join other states that have passed measures to make voting more convenient and easier.
Bloomberg called the ideas “common sense things that other states and municipalities have done.”
“Not doing them is an outrage,” he added.
Some of the proposals on Bloomberg’s wish list have been introduced or debated in recent years and have not gotten far in the state legislature, including the concept of early voting, an option offered in 35 states.
New York’s primary and Election Day were rocky this year, as new electronic voting machines made their debut, replacing hand lever machines that had been in use for 80 years. The problems associated with using the new machines for the first time — including precincts opening hours late — brought new attention to voting issues in New York.
The group acknowledged it will still be difficult to get what they are asking.
Public interest organizations said pushing election law reforms has historically been difficult in Albany, where some lawmakers worry that increased voter participation could weaken their own power.
Dick Dadey, of the group Citizens Union, said some state legislators “fear people participating, because the more people participate, the less likely they control the outcome.”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)