Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

voting reform

voting reform

  • crowds gathered votes

    Voting (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)


    In April 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo virtually forced the New York legislature to make severe changes to New York’s ballot access laws, by inserting those changes into a budget bill, which had to pass in order to avoid chaos. If those changes are not reversed, New York voters will invariably see only two candidates on their general election ballots in 2022 for almost all congressional and statewide races. In 2024, for president, chances are also high that they will see only the Democratic and

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  • 2 democracy registers people

    Voter registration (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Voting rights advocates are beginning to wonder if the gusto to transform New York's elections embraced by state lawmakers last year -- changes many considered necessary adjustments, if still a work in progress -- will extend into the pandemic's second election cycle and the decisive New York City primaries in June.

    There are already signs it has waned with the completion of the presidential election, the availability of vaccines, and new sights set on

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  • mayoroffice cast vote

    Voters (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)


    It’s been nearly a year since New York City was almost entirely shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, only essential services like health care, transportation, and food services remained open. We witnessed so many heroes step up to keep our city functioning and help us remain safe and secure. Among them are the half-a-million immigrants who have been on the frontline in hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, subways and busses, and more.

    As New York City moves

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  • Legislature on Verge of Passing Legislation to Restore Voting Rights for Parolees

    Voters (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    A bill to restore the voting rights of people on parole is moving through the New York State Legislature and could land on Governor Andrew Cuomo's desk this spring, according to the bill's Assembly sponsor. Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell told Gotham Gazette the legislation, which was passed in the State Senate in February, is likely to pass the Assembly "soon" after the state budget is finalized. 

    "I expect our

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  • early pres ele

    Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The 2020 general election saw an unprecedented number of New Yorkers cast their ballots, including through early voting, which was in place for the first time for a presidential election, and expanded absentee voting. As turnout jumped despite the coronavirus pandemic, there were again numerous instances of long lines at the polls, especially during the first several days of early voting when demand appeared to significantly outrun the number of available poll sites. Election administration in the

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  • public ad first

    Voting rights (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Voting rights and social justice advocates are counting on legislative supermajorities in Albany to begin tackling a long ignored civil rights imperative, reform of New York’s racist Civil War-era blanket voter disenfranchisement law, which strips citizens of their right to vote while in prison or on parole for a felony conviction, regardless of the

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  • MLK Jr arc of justice

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the arc of justice (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    Today we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in July we will honor and mourn the first anniversary of the passing of Rep. John Lewis, who marched side-by-side at Selma and together championed voting rights as a key aspect of the Civil Rights struggle for Black people in the United States. 

    In recent weeks we have witnessed both the best of democracy -- massive voter turnout, particularly among Black Americans, overcoming voter

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  • voters on line Queens early

    Voters on line for early voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Blockchain – many know it is a technology of the moment, but few understand how it works. It’s just one of those things that sounds important, but so many eyes glaze over when the phrase is used. But more and more, the use of blockchain technology is becoming commonplace, and it’s time we consider using it to make sure elections are as secure as possible.

    First, the basics.

    Blockchain is known as a “decentralized ledger” -- meaning that whenever a change is made

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  • 4 polling sites

    Voting in NYC in a pandemic (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The first presidential election in New York City to have both early and universal mail-in voting showed a significant portion of the electorate taking advantage of each of the new voting methods.

    Across the city, roughly 42% of those who voted cast ballots in-person on Election Day, while 37% voted at an early voting site, and 22% mailed in ballots, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. At ...

  • early voting pres

    Voters at work (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The combination of early voting, vote-by-mail, and the desire to vote out Donald Trump made 2020 a huge year for voting in New York City. Despite long lines, when voters are given the right resources and awareness, we can raise the level of participation.  

    As we turn towards 2021, the next chapter for voting in New York City will be the implementation of ranked-choice voting (RCV) for special and party primary elections for city government positions. If properly implemented, it will

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  • stu voter reg

    Voters would have less hassle registering under AVR (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Following the widespread problems in the execution of this year’s elections, it’s clear we need to transform New York’s voting systems from top to bottom. From restoring confidence in the Board of Elections to reducing long lines and wait times counting ballots, lawmakers must take action now to prevent another disaster the next time New Yorkers vote. Thankfully, there is one important fix that can be done immediately: enacting the Automatic Voter Registration legislation that passed the

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  • 3 early voting influx

    Early voting at a poll site can be a breeze (photo: @BOENYC)


    As election administrators across the state prepare themselves for a second, larger wave of mass absentee voting this fall, officials and voting advocates are encouraging as many voters as possible to take advantage of the state's in-person early voting option as an alternative to crowded Election Day poll sites and the uncertainty of casting a ballot by mail.

    Early voting, first launched statewide in 2019, will be offered this fall from October 24 through November 1 and gives all

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  • kings abs oath envelope pg2b

    Part of the new absentee ballot envelope design


    The New York State Board of Elections has approved a new design for absentee ballot envelopes to be used statewide in the upcoming general election. The new layout, mandated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in an executive order, is intended to make it more obvious where a voter needs to provide a signature in order to have the ballot accepted by elections administrators under state law and avoid mass disqualification of absentee ballots as New York saw during the June primaries.

    The

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  • online voter sep

    Voter registration (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    A bill that would have made it possible for many thousands of New York City residents to register to vote online, which passed the State Senate but stalled in the Assembly earlier this year, is unlikely to pass before the general election registration deadline and would be too late to be implemented even if it did, officials say.

    The legislation, first introduced in the summer of 2019, would allow the New York City Campaign Finance Board to open the online voter registration portal it created

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  • Myrie Gianaris State Senate voting

    State Senators & election officials (photo: Senator Gianaris' office)


    After the June primaries, when tens of thousands of absentee ballots were rejected on technical grounds or never cast because they were mailed to voters late or not at all, state lawmakers passed a series of measures aimed at correcting some of those mishaps. But several other bills introduced by legislators and pushed by voting rights advocates that could prevent thousands of ballots from being thrown out are still on the table as the clock ticks toward the

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  • Myrie Senate

    State Senator Myrie in the Senate chamber (photo: State Senate)


    After June saw drastic shifts in how voting in New York is conducted, elections administrators, state legislators, and watchdogs have a long list of changes they want to see enacted before the general election this fall. But above all they want clarity from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Many of the key players in New York City and State elections testified Tuesday at an oversight hearing held by both houses of the Democrat-controlled Legislature examining the June primary, its successes and

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  • passed prop what

    Inspecting voting equipment (photo: Senator Michael Gianaris)


    The June 2020 primaries in New York were an unusually thick morass of bureaucratic challenges as the city and state election systems shifted to a mostly-mail-in format amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

    In New York City more than 80,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified on technical grounds -- a full fifth of the 400,000-plus ballots cast that way and a tenth of the total. Tens of thousands of ballots were either sent out late by the New York City Board of Elections or never delivered to voters who

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  • boe nyc votes table pandemic

    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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  • mt kitso pre

    New York has made some adjustments to voting amid COVID-19 (photo: governor's office)


    This guest column is part of Citizens Union Speakers, a regular series of op-eds written by members of the Citizens Union Foundation

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  • parollee restor oped

    Questioning which New Yorkers can go to the polls (photo: Gotham Gazette)


    Practicing social distancing is by no means easy, but the guidelines are simple: maintain six feet of distance from others, avoid crowded environments, public bathrooms, and shared dining facilities, and to blow off steam, go outside. Stick to the guidelines, health officials assure us, and we can all help protect each other, especially the vulnerable. 

    But many of the most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis are those whom most of us will never see and for whom social

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  • voter reg day1

    Next potential steps for voting in New York (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The following is an excerpt from the 2019-20 NYC Votes Voter Analysis Report

    Novel and frightening barriers to voting have the potential to upend the entire crucial 2020 election year in every state. The challenges of in-person voting during a pandemic are clear and significant. Elections traditionally provide a time for citizens to gather together in

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  • 1 good advo

    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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  • Cuomo voting New York

    Gov. Cuomo votes, in person (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he will use his executive authority to allow all New Yorkers to vote by absentee ballot for the June 23 elections, to prevent long lines at the polls that could put people at risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. Elections that day will include party primaries for many seats and special elections open to all voters within the relevant districts.

    “I've seen lines of people on television voting in other states.

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  • mbdb flcm co

    Major questions about voting during coronavirus hang in the balance (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    As the American people hunker down under a patchwork of evolving emergency orders and health directives, our communities are grappling with extraordinary circumstances disrupting and reorienting our lives and the economy. To flatten the curve of community spread during the increasingly deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo has placed New York on PAUSE; Health officials have issued stay-at-home and social distancing directives; schools, playgrounds, and non-essential

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  • electeds yr

    Thursday's rally (photo: Samar Khurshid)


    About 1 million foreign-born New York City residents who have permanent residency status or are legally authorized to work in the United States could become eligible to vote in municipal elections under a new bill introduced before the New York City Council on Thursday.

    Sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, a Manhattan Democrat, the bill (Intro. 1867) would extend the franchise to green card and work permit holders who can show they have lived in the five boroughs for at least 30 days. The bill is the latest

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