Another legislative session has come to a close, and the New York State Senate has still not taken any meaningful action to modernize the state’s electoral system, despite a voting participation rate of just 29 percent of the eligible population in 2014, and 57 percent in 2016.
The Senate has not taken any action despite the state holding the rank of 47th in the nation for voter turnout in 2014, and 41st in 2016 – despite 37 other states having already implemented such measures – and despite the New York State Assembly once again passing bills supporting voting reform.
Despite all this, the Senate majority has again chosen to block early-voting, automatic registration, electronic poll books, and other commonsense measures that would vastly improve access to voting.
The blame for this inexcusable disgrace is to be divided between Gov. Andrew Cuomo; the Republican leadership of the state Senate, including Sen. John DeFrancisco; and the Independent Democratic Caucasus (IDC), including Sen. Dave Valesky.
Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly and publicly stated that he stands behind improvements to New York’s antiquated election system. However, his words do not correspond to his actions in this case, as he never manages to use his considerable influence to actually make reform happen.
Without walking the “walk,” a good “talk” is worse than meaningless.
As for the Senate Republicans, under the false flag of “voter fraud,” they have once more blocked all bills to improve the voting system.
Let us freely admit that their true concern is nothing more than maintaining ruling status.
As has been continuously demonstrated in numerous states, voting reform measures increase participation in elections.
And, increased participation in elections often leads to greater support for the Democratic Party.
Ergo- if reform is enacted- turnout increases – and the Republicans could very well lose their slim majority. They are, in a word, desperate to impede anything (i.e. voting reform) that might challenge their grasp of power.
But, most insidious of all, is the IDC. These Senate “Democrats” possess the bewildering characteristic of staunch allegiance to the Republican Party leadership; and enable the Republicans to control the Senate, despite the Democrats’ numerical advantage. (In exchange for bigger salaries and bigger offices.)
And, it is their unwavering support of the Senate Republicans’ self-serving priorities that has sabotaged voting reform yet again.
If nothing else, perhaps they should update their party affiliation?
Refusing to make voting as accessible to the people as possible is cowardly, deceptive, and tyrannical. It completely goes against the spirit of everything positive that this country was founded upon.
Gov. Cuomo, the Senate Republicans, and the IDC are there to serve the people – not to stifle their voices. If they choose to block voting reform, it is time for the people to block their re-election.
Jennifer L. Yoshioka