New York State Bar Association Makes Recommendations To Restore Faith in NY’s Election Process

By David Howard King

New York State Bar Association Makes Recommendations To Restore Faith in NY’s Election Process

6.18.2022

By David Howard King

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The New York State Bar Association recommends restoring public faith in elections by removing patronage, instituting ethics rules, and requiring election workers be professionally trained.

The association’s House of Delegates, its governing body, voted on Saturday to accept the suggestions of its Task Force on Voting Rights and Democracy, which is chaired by Jerry Goldfeder, special counsel at Stroock, Stroock & Lavan, and comprised of many of the state’s preeminent election law experts.

NYSBA’s Immediate Past President T. Andrew Brown appointed the task force in the wake of discredited claims of widespread election fraud leveled by the Trump presidential campaign.

“Make no mistake that the right to vote in America is under attack,” said NYSBA President Sherry Levin Wallach. “While the problems voters face in New York are not the same as those encountered by residents of Georgia, we still have much work to do to make our elections work for the people, and not against them.”

The report recommends that New York devise ethic rules for election workers that would be similar to federal laws and laws adopted by some other states. The rules bar election workers from sharing vote tallies or recount information with only one campaign, prohibit influencing election results and forbid all partisan activity.

“This report represents a clear pathway for New York to modernize and professionalize its election infrastructure,” Goldfeder said. “The vote in America is sacred. Our legislature should continue its work in reforming our election laws and procedures.”

In calling for hiring practices to be more professional, the association warns against making election board positions in New York political favors; instead, the jobs should be widely advertised, and applicants should be judged on their merits.

To depoliticize the election process, the association wants to:

  • Make it illegal for election workers to share vote tallies
  • Ban the participation of election workers in partisan events
  • Require officials to take an oath vowing not to use their position to influence the outcome of the election

The report also calls for streamlining access to election information by county with easy-to-understand guidelines and multiple language options. Currently, each election board puts out its own information and finding vote totals can be next to impossible.

Finally, the task force recommends creating the position of elections inspector general within the New York State Office of the Inspector General. The office would identify and propose solutions to voting issues that arise.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated, and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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