Local OFFICIAL'S Letter for Early Voting & AVR

Local Elected Officials across the state agree that Early Voting and Automatic Voter Registration are VITAL TO OUR STATE.

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March, 2018

Dear Hon. Messrs. Cuomo, Flanagan, Heastie, and Klein and Ms. Stewart-Cousins:

We, the undersigned local officials, urge you to commit to giving all eligible New Yorkers the freedom to vote by including Early Voting funding and legislation in the 2018-19 state budget, as well as an expansive Automatic Voter Registration system, as the first steps towards modernizing elections in New York State.

As local elected officials, we see firsthand the challenges of running elections in New York.  The experience which New Yorkers have voting varies much too widely. While some New Yorkers do not experience problems registering and accessing the voting booth, for too many the process is confusing and discouraging.  Even one voter who is disenfranchised because of antiquated voting laws is one voter too many- and we know that there are many who are not able to cast their ballots.

It is important for all New Yorkers that our voting system works well, yet our state has consistently failed to adopt any of the common-sense steps that would safeguard our elections without shutting eligible citizens out of the voting process. There are 37 other states including Texas, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma that have adopted Early Voting laws to enable more citizens to have their voices heard and improve election administration. We believe that it is unacceptable that New York is not among them. Even worse, New York’s failure to adopt simple reform measures has been cited as an excuse when other states attempt to cut back or repeal voting rights in an effort to deny citizens the opportunity to vote. There is much to be done to ensure that New York’s election laws help foster a truly inclusive and representative democracy. Establishing and funding an Early Voting process in New York is an important first step that can be accomplished during this budget cycle. We urge you to do everything in your power to achieve that goal.

Hard working New Yorkers should not need to choose between their jobs and voting. Early Voting in New York would finally give voters who are seniors, disabled, in school, working, or parents taking care of their families, a chance to get to their polling location and cast their ballots when it is convenient for them – not just on one day.  Early Voting would also be an important addition to New York’s disaster preparedness, helping to avoid the confusion and chaos that can result from extreme weather events, such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, that may occur close to Election Day.

Early Voting has shown to be popular with voters across the political spectrum as well as both Republican and Democratic election administrators. We are impressed by the recent Siena College polling results, which show that no matter where New Yorkers live – in rural, urban or suburban areas – a significant majority of them support early voting for New York.  We were not surprised by these polling results, as they mirror our own experience in talking with our constituents.

Setting up an Automatic Voter Registration system that functions through contacts with numerous state agencies will improve the security and accuracy of our voter rolls, as well as help combat our state’s persistent low voter turnout.  

Now more than ever, we must recognize that voting rights are civil rights. Generations of brave Americans fought and died to ensure that we have the opportunity to vote, but New York’s failure to pass simple solutions for fair and secure elections poses a serious threat to freedoms that we depend on and work so hard to protect.

Our state must encourage voting, rather than discourage it, by working to reform outdated voting laws as so many other states have successfully done. With your leadership, we can set up an Early Voting system that ensures the accuracy of New York’s elections and the health of our democracy.

Sincerely,

DuWayne Gregory, Presiding Officer, County Legislature, Suffolk County

Francena Amparo, County Legislator, Dutchess County

Tracey Bartels, County Legislator, Ulster County

Keith Batman, County Legislator, Cayuga County

Joshua Bauroth, County Legislator, Monroe County

Hannah Black, County Legislator, Dutchess County

Catherine Borgia, County Legislator, Westchester County

Craig Brendli, County Legislator, Dutchess County

Michael Brown, County Legislator, Oneida County

Doug Bullock, County Legislator, Albany County

Siela Bynoe, County Legislator, Nassau County

Deborah Dawson, County Legislator, Tompkins County

Sam Fein, County Legislator, Albany

Manna Jo Greene, County Legislator, Ulster County

Christopher Johnson, County Legislator, Westchester County

Anna Kelles, County Legislator, Tompkins County

Kristofer Munn, County Legislator, Dutchess County

Nick Page, County Legislator, Dutchess County

William Reinhardt, County Legislator, Albany County

James Sheppard, County Legislator, Monroe County

Mary Jane Shimsky, County Legislator, Westchester County

Joel Tyner, County Legislator, Dutchess County

Tara N. Gaston, Supervisor, Saratoga County

Gregory Young, Supervisor, Fulton County

Svante Myrick, Mayor, Ithaca

Steven Noble, Mayor, Kingston

Thomas Roach, Mayor, White Plains

Kathleen Talbot, Deputy Mayor, Peekskill

Darius Shahinfar, Treasurer, Albany

Anthony Eramo, City Council President, Long Beach

Michael Sabatino, Majority Leader, City Council, Yonkers

Owusu Anane, Council Member, Albany

Dorcey Applyrs, Council Member, Albany

Diana Ayala, Council Member, New York City

Justin Brannan, Council Member, New York City

Cynthia Brock, Council Member, Ithaca

Molly Clifford, Council Member, Rochester

Alan Cohen, Council Member, City of Oneida

William Conrad, Council Member, Tonawanda

Joseph Driscoll, Council Member, Syracuse

Amber Grant, Council Member, Beacon

Ben Kallos, Council Member, New York City

Anna Kaplan, Council Member, North Hempstead

Mike Kelly, Council Member, City of Plattsburgh

Kelly Kimbrough, Council Member, Albany

Brad Lander, Council Member, New York City

Steve Levin, Council Member, New York City

Laura Lewis, Council Member, Ithaca

Jodi McCredo, Council Member, Beacon

Karen Mejia, Council Member, Newburgh

Ducson Nguyen, Council Member, Ithaca

Keith Powers, Council Member, New York City

Antonio Reynoso, Council Member, New York City

Donovan Richards, Council Member, New York City

Carlina Rivera, Council Member, New York City

Debi Rose, Council Member, New York City

Helen Rosenthal, Council Member, New York City

Ezra Scott Jr, Council Member, Niagara Falls

Cam Tien, Council Member, Rome

Jumaane Williams, Council Member, New York City

Valerie Cartright, Council Member, Town of Brookhaven

Joan Cergol, Council Member, Town of Huntington

Mark Cuthbertson, Council Member, Town of Huntington

Terry Nelson, Council Member, Town of Beacon

Marion Porterfield, Council Member, Schenectady

Viviana Russell, Council Member, Town of North Hempstead

Neil Bettez, Supervisor, Town of New Paltz

Darrah Cloud, Supervisor, Pine Plains

Daniel Torres, Deputy Supervisor, Town of New Paltz

Dorothy L. Goosby, Senior Council Member, Hempstead

Sonia Ayala, Town Council Member, Blooming Grove

John Bouvier, Town Council Member, Southampton

S. Ken Jones, Town Council Member, Greenburgh

Barbra Kingsley, Town Council Member, White Creek

Meg LeFevre, Town Council Member, Town of Plattsburgh

Sarah Lister, Town Council Member, Potsdam

Jen Metzger, Town Council Member, Rosendale

Kerin Rigney, Town Council Member, DeWitt

Tammy Taber, Town Council Member, White Creek

Stephanie Townsend, Town Council Member, Pittsford

Lance Wang, Town Council Member, White Creek

Ross Whitford, Town Council Member, Eaton

Robin Wilt, Town Council Member, Brighton

Tom Wood, Town Council Member, Town of Plattsburgh

Samuel Young, Town Council Member, DeWitt

Brian Pugh, Mayor, Village of Ossining

Molly Reilly, Mayor, Sackets Harbor

Quantel Bazemore, Village Trustee, Ossining

John Codman III, Village Trustee, Ossining

Omar Herrera, Village Trustee, Ossining

Sean O'Brien, Village Trustee, Canton

Carmen Pineyro, Village Trustee, Freeport

Alexandra Gordon, Vice President, Comsewogue School District Board of Education

Elzabeth Hallmark, School Board Member, Rochester City School District

Jennifer Mecozzi, School Board Member, Buffalo City School District

Vickie Smith, School Board Member, Albany City School District

Maribel Toure, School Board Member, Hempstead School District

Tammie Williams, Library Trustee, Elmont Public Library