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Common Cause

Common Cause

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    Ranked-choice voting will be implemented for the first time next year (Michael Appleton/Mayor's office)


    The New York State Board of Elections is continuing the process of certifying new voting machines sought by New York City elections administrators to improve the city's early voting system. But, while those machines could help the city take a step toward county-wide early voting centers – which many early voting supporters are pushing for – voting reform advocates say they may not be viable for ranked-choice voting, which will be implemented for the first

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's office)


    The New York City Board of Elections last week delivered a City Charter-mandated report to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council on how it will implement a new voting method, known as ranked-choice voting (RCV), in the 2021 municipal elections, when all of city government will be on the ballot.

    The report, which was submitted June 30 and obtained by Gotham Gazette, shows few procedural and operational changes to casting and counting ballots, possibly indicating a light lift for elections administrators ahead of the

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    Voting during a pandemic (photo: @NYCVotes)


    Ahead of a special state legislative session set for next week, a coalition of election reform advocates is backing ten bills that would change or codify elements of the now widely-used absentee voting process before the fall general election.

    The agenda, released Thursday by the Let NY Vote coalition, comes amid party primary elections where the voting is over but the counting

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    Ranked-choice voting is coming soon (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    The New York City Board of Elections missed a City Charter-mandated June 1 deadline to issue a report on how it will implement the new voter-approved ranked-choice voting system in 2021, advocates and elected officials said Friday.

    At a press conference hosted by good government group Common Cause New York, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the report is essential to adequately prepare for the new voting format next

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    Voting in New York is undergoing major shifts, with more possibly to come (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Amid reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to allow or require voting by mail for all New Yorkers in primary and special elections set for June 23, government reform advocates have raised concerns that the measure could end up adversely affecting the election, while the State Republican Party has promised to sue if the governor follows through.

    The coronavirus pandemic has forced several delays in the state’s election calendar and in-person voting

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    (photo: @Gothamgazette)


    October 23, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: The Consequential Questions on Your Ballot

    rb sl podcastThere are 5 consequential questions on the New York City ballot this fall, each of which poses changes to city elections or governance for "yes" or "no" reponses from voters. Two leading goverment reform experts -- Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY and Rachel

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    (photo: @commoncauseny)


    A coalition of elected officials, business and labor leaders, and reform groups gathered Thursday in Lower Manhattan to launch a campaign to convince New York City voters to change the way they elect their representatives in city government.

    Voters in New York City this fall will have the opportunity to approve ballot referenda on a number of reforms to the City Charter, including a new election system known as “ranked-choice voting.” The new system would allow voters in primary and special elections -- but not general elections -- to

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    NYC BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    After each election cycle, New York elected officials, government insiders, and interested members of the press and public gather at City Hall and in other hearing rooms for a bit of political theater. The protagonist is the electorate, or the democratic process, itself; the one cast as villain is Michael Ryan, the executive director of the New York City Board of Elections, who is there to respond to questions about how voting went that year.

    “Mr. Ryan,

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    (photo: @MNN59)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    mnn59 agenda ep2As part of Agenda 2019, the project from Gotham Gazette and City Limits, hosts Ben Max and Jarrett Murphy were joined on Manhattan Neighborhood Network by State Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, and Susan Lerner, executive

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    (photo: Gotham Gazette)


    Last Tuesday during the Ohio-12 special election, Americans found themselves angry at third party voters – again – for “wasting” their votes.

    This problem is not unique to Ohio: in multi-candidate competitive races, we see upset voters of one party or candidate hold others accountable for their loss.

    The blame should not be placed on voters -- it should be on the broken election system. Just look at New York City.

    New York City primaries are crowded fields, with sometimes with as many as seven people vying

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    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    April 17, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Reforming Special Elections & More in Albany

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    Susan Lerner of Common Cause/NY is one of the leading government reform advocates and activists in New York. With a recently-passed state budget largely missing any ethics, campaign finance or voting reforms, and

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    Council Member Fernando Cabrera (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    A day after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced initial appointments to a Charter Revision Commission that he is convening to examine the city’s campaign finance laws, Public Advocate Letitia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer testified before the City Council on their own alternative proposal to create a Commission to examine the structure of city government.

    The Charter is the city’s seminal governing document, laying out the powers and functions of every level of

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    (photo: The Governor's Office)


    New York’s leading government reform groups reacted to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State agenda on Thursday in Albany, holding a press conference to urge the governor and legislative leaders to adopt a package of reforms to help restore public confidence in state government.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that Cuomo failed to pass any of the reforms he promised in the wake of the alleged bid-rigging schemes associated with his signature economic development programs, government ethics

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    Gov. Cuomo and John Flanagan, right (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    As the legislative session kicks off this week, there are a slew of open state Senate and Assembly seats, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has not indicated when or whether he will call a special election to fill the vacancies.

    January 1 was the earliest the second-term governor could have called the election day to fill all 11 vacancies, and a growing number of critics are pressuring Cuomo to make the pronouncement as soon as possible. The election

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    Gov. Cuomo voting (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday unveiled his “Democracy Agenda,” a plan to create more transparency in political advertising and require online platforms to archive political ads, protect state elections from hacking threats, and enhance voting opportunities.

    The 13th proposal of the governor’s developing 2018 State of the State speech, the advertising transparency and cybersecurity initiatives are joined by three voting reform measures that were introduced by Cuomo ...

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    Comptroller Scott Stringer (photo courtesy of Comptroller's office)


    Just four days before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, November 7, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a damning report highlighting the dysfunctional election operations of the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-city agency that administers elections in the city.

    Stringer’s audit was launched in response to the BOE’s purge of more than 117,000 voters from the rolls in Brooklyn last year, ahead of the April presidential primary. The purge prompted widespread outrage, triggering an investigation by the

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    A bill heard by the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations on Thursday aims to further limit the influence of big-dollar donations and special interests in city elections. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee, would tweak the city’s public campaign finance system by removing a cap on public funds disbursed to candidate campaigns by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

    The city’s campaign finance system is held up as a national model that incentivizes small

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo all but confirmed Tuesday that major voting reforms he’s proposed would not be part of the new state budget, which is due by April 1.

    In January, Cuomo outlined the “Democracy Project” as part of his 2017 State of the State agenda, and included its widely prized measures like early voting, same-day voter registration, and an enhanced form of automatic voter registration in one of his budget bills. But, on Tuesday Cuomo indicated that the push to

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    In a surprise move on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared during a NY1 television appearance that going forward his communications with five outside advisors would be subject to public disclosure. In doing so, the mayor betrayed his own rhetoric from a week prior when he vigorously defended his actions in keeping those communications

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    Within the next two months, the City Council is expected to vote on a large legislative package that would alter the city’s campaign finance system in a variety of ways and regulate donations to political nonprofits, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said this week. Some of the proposals and the timing of their likely passage have raised concerns, though, that the Council is weakening the city’s model campaign finance system, pushing some reforms through after too long a wait and rushing other, newer bills through just in time for the next

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    State pay commission panelists at final meeting, Nov. 15, 2016


    The final meeting of the state commission tasked with recommending pay raises for executive branch employees and state legislators was marred by disagreement and accusations, and failed to produce any results on Tuesday. It appears that the panel will be disbanded without taking any substantive action.

    In a chamber at the New York City Bar Association in midtown, members of the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive

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    Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    As the calendar hurtles toward 2017, one of the big New York City political questions is what the future holds for Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council. Mark-Viverito will be term-limited out of office at the end of next year and while she has indicated that she may continue to be active in city politics, there is no clear next step for her, especially in terms of elected office.

    Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, told ...

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    above: Melissa Mark-Viverito; below: Ben Kallos (photos by William Alatriste)


    New York City’s campaign finance system, particularly its public matching funds program, is considered a national model, and it stays that way by being regularly updated and modernized. The Campaign Finance Board issues reports following each election analyzing ways to plug holes in the system and bolster the already-robust provisions of the relevant law.

    But, the next city election cycle, in 2017, may come and go without any

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  •  Campaign Finance Board RUles

    (Credit: Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The New York City Campaign Finance Board sent a somewhat mixed message to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday over the nonprofit group set up by his allies to promote his progressive policies.

    At a public meeting in Downtown Manhattan, the CFB issued a determination that de Blasio’s fundraising for the Campaign for One New York, a group

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    As Mayor Bill de Blasio is mired in controversy over his fundraising activities and proximity to lobbyists, the City Council is moving on bills to reduce the possibility of ‘pay-to-play’ campaign financing and make significant tweaks to strengthen an already-robust public-matching system.

    The Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held a hearing on Monday to examine ...