The New York State Bar Association urges the state Legislature to enact measures within budget bills that would modernize the voter registration process and allow voters to cast ballots prior to the traditional Election Day.
March 31 is the deadline for passage of the 2016-17 state budget.
“Measures to remove barriers to registration and voting and to encourage participation, while maintaining the integrity of the process, could go a long way to improving civic engagement and enhancing our democracy,” said State Bar President David P. Miranda of Albany (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti). New York is frequently ranked among the states with the lowest voter participation rates in the nation.
“Over the years, the Legislature has imposed numerous and detailed requirements for registration of voters. As a result, more than 100 sections of the state Election Law—virtually all of which were written before the age of computers and the Internet—address issues relating to registration,” Miranda said.
A 2012 report by the Association’s Special Committee on Voter Participation, formed by then-President Seymour W. James, Jr., identified a number of ways to modernize New York’s voter registration process—as well as numerous other recommendations, including authorizing a form of in-person early voting.
“The practice of affording voters the option of voting in person earlier than Election Day has proved to be extremely popular in other states and we would expect it to be welcomed by those in New York,” Miranda wrote in a recent letter to legislative leaders. “In-person early voting makes it easier for many voters to get to the polls and, for some, it permits them more time on a non-working day to consider the ballot and then vote more carefully.”
The Association commends Governor Andrew Cuomo for proposing changes in the voter registration process and for proposing authorization of early voting. Miranda, in his March 4, 2016 letter to the legislative leaders, urged the Legislature to adopt the type of proposals submitted by the Governor.
The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs