senate Bill S7585

Relates to voting rights

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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  • 15 / May / 2014
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS

Summary

Relates to voting rights including voter protection, voter's bill of rights, illegal voter supression and intimidation, vote dilution, and preclearance.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S7585
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Elections
Law Section:
Election Law
Laws Affected:
Add §§5-108, 17-133, 17-135 & Art 8 Title 6 §8-600, El L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S7585

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to
voting rights

PURPOSE:

To codify voter protections in New York law that were formerly
guaranteed under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1964.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section One of the bill creates definitions.

Section Two amends the election law by adding a new section 17-133
that provides for voter protection.

Section Three amends the election law by adding a new section 17-135
that provides for voter protection.

Section Four amends article 8 of the election law to create a
mandatory preclearance system for those counties or political
subdivisions that seek to institute voter qualifications or other
prerequisites to voting.

Section Five provides that this act shall take effect on the first of
January next succeeding the date on which it shall have become law.

JUSTIFICATION:

In June 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated a key
portion of the historic Voting Rights Acts of 1965 in Shelby County v.
Holder. Section 5 of the Act prohibits certain municipalities from
making changes to voting procedures without Federal clearance.
Section 4 of the Act, contained the formula used to determine the
states and municipalities with a history of voting discrimination that
had to comply with Section 5. The Court held that Section 4 was
unconstitutional and struck it down, effectively making Section 5
useless until Congress takes steps to create a new formula. As a
result of the decision, the states and municipalities that had been
identified as historically utilizing discriminatory practices at the
ballot box are now free to require superfluous qualifications in an
attempt to curtail the voting rights of minorities.

Despite the assertions made by the Court in the majority opinion,
racial discrimination still exists. The right of access to voting is
one of the most crucial rights guaranteed us in the New York and
federal constitutions. Using pretexts that deny access to the ballot
substantially reduces minority participation in government, which
undermines the electoral franchise.

This bill will create a voter's bill of rights, protect against vote
dilution and generally ensure the constitutional right to have one's
vote counted is not undermined by legal strategies that would deny
access on the basis of race, color, religion, gender preference or
disability.


LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

None. This is a new bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeeding the
date on which it shall have become law.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  7585

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              May 15, 2014
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections

AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to voting rights

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1.  The election law is amended by adding a new section 5-108
to read as follows:
  S 5-108. VOTER PROTECTION.
  1. THE TERMS USED IN THIS SECTION SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING MEANINGS:
  A. THE TERM "BOARD" SHALL MEAN THE STATE BOARD OF  ELECTIONS  PROVIDED
FOR BY SECTION 13-100 OF THIS CHAPTER;
  B. THE TERM "ELECTION" SHALL MEAN ANY FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL ELECTION
HELD IN THE STATE;
  C.  THE  TERM  "COUNTY BOARD OF  ELECTIONS" SHALL HAVE THE MEANING SET
FORTH IN SECTION 1-104 OF THIS CHAPTER;
  D. THE TERM "ELECTION OFFICER" SHALL HAVE THE  MEANING  SET  FORTH  IN
SECTION 1-104 OF THIS CHAPTER;
  2.  A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF  VOTER INTIMIDATION IF HE OR SHE USES OR
THREATENS FORCE, VIOLENCE OR ANY TACTIC OF COERCION OR  INTIMIDATION  TO
INDUCE OR COMPEL ANY OTHER PERSON TO:
  A. VOTE OR REFRAIN FROM VOTING;
  B.  VOTE OR REFRAIN FROM VOTING FOR ANY PARTICULAR CANDIDATE OR BALLOT
MEASURE; OR
  C. REFRAIN FROM REGISTERING TO VOTE.
  3. A PERSON IS GUILTY OF VOTER SUPPRESSION  IF  HE  OR  SHE  KNOWINGLY
ATTEMPTS  TO PREVENT OR DETER ANOTHER PERSON  FROM VOTING OR REGISTERING
TO VOTE BASED ON FRAUDULENT, DECEPTIVE OR SPURIOUS GROUNDS  OR  INFORMA-
TION. VOTER SUPPRESSION INCLUDES:
  A.  CHALLENGING  ANOTHER  PERSON'S  RIGHT TO REGISTER OR VOTE BASED ON
KNOWINGLY FALSE INFORMATION;
  B. ATTEMPTING TO INDUCE ANOTHER PERSON TO REFRAIN FROM REGISTERING  OR
VOTING BY PROVIDING THAT PERSON WITH KNOWINGLY FALSE INFORMATION; OR
  C.  ATTEMPTING TO INDUCE ANOTHER PERSON TO REFRAIN FROM REGISTERING OR
VOTING AT THE PROPER PLACE OR TIME BY PROVIDING THAT PERSON  WITH  KNOW-

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD11623-01-3

S. 7585                             2

INGLY  FALSE  INFORMATION  ABOUT  THE DATE, TIME, PLACE OR MANNER OF THE
ELECTION.
  4.  A.   LOCAL ELECTION SUPERVISORS MUST POST A VOTER'S BILL OF RIGHTS
AT EVERY POLLING PLACE, INCLUDE IT WITH EVERY DISTRIBUTION  OF  OFFICIAL
SAMPLE  BALLOTS, AND OFFER IT TO VOTERS AT POLLING PLACES, IN ACCORDANCE
WITH PROCEDURES APPROVED BY THE BOARD. THE TEXT OF  THIS  DOCUMENT  WILL
BE:
  "VOTER'S BILL OF RIGHTS"
  EVERY REGISTERED VOTER IN THIS STATE HAS THE RIGHT TO:
  1. INSPECT A SAMPLE BALLOT BEFORE VOTING.
  2. CAST A BALLOT IF HE OR SHE IS IN LINE WHEN THE POLLS ARE CLOSING.
  3.  ASK  FOR AND RECEIVE ASSISTANCE IN VOTING, INCLUDING ASSISTANCE IN
LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH WHERE REQUIRED BY FEDERAL OR STATE LAW.
  4. RECEIVE A REPLACEMENT BALLOT IF HE OR SHE MAKES A MISTAKE PRIOR  TO
THE BALLOT BEING CAST.
  5.  CAST  A PROVISIONAL BALLOT IF HIS OR HER ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE IS IN
QUESTION.
  6. VOTE FREE FROM COERCION OR INTIMIDATION BY ELECTION OFFICERS OR ANY
OTHER PERSON.
  7. CAST A BALLOT USING VOTING EQUIPMENT  THAT  ACCURATELY  COUNTS  ALL
VOTES."
  B. IN ANY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OR PRECINCT WHERE FEDERAL OR STATE LAW
REQUIRES  THE  BALLOT  TO  BE  MADE  AVAILABLE  IN A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN
ENGLISH, THE VOTER'S BULL OF RIGHTS WILL ALSO BE MADE AVAILABLE IN  SUCH
LANGUAGE OR LANGUAGES.
  5.  THE BOARD WILL CREATE A MANUAL OF UNIFORM POLLING PLACE PROCEDURES
AND ADOPT THE MANUAL BY  REGULATION.  LOCAL  ELECTION  SUPERVISORS  WILL
ENSURE THAT THE MANUALS ARE AVAILABLE IN HARD COPY OR ELECTRONIC FORM AT
EVERY  PRECINCT  IN THE SUPERVISORS' JURISDICTIONS ON ELECTION DAY.  THE
MANUAL WILL GUIDE LOCAL ELECTION OFFICERS IN THE  PROPER  IMPLEMENTATION
OF  ELECTION  LAWS AND PROCEDURES. THE MANUAL WILL BE INDEXED BY SUBJECT
AND WRITTEN IN CLEAR, UNAMBIGUOUS  LANGUAGE.  THE  MANUAL  WILL  PROVIDE
SPECIFIC  EXAMPLES  OF  COMMON  PROBLEMS  ENCOUNTERED  AT  THE  POLLS ON
ELECTION DAY, AND DETAIL SPECIFIC PROCEDURES FOR RESOLVING  THOSE  PROB-
LEMS. THE MANUAL WILL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, THE FOLLOWING:
  A. REGULATIONS GOVERNING SOLICITATION BY INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS AT THE
POLLING PLACE;
  B.  PROCEDURES  TO  BE FOLLOWED WITH RESPECT TO VOTERS WHOSE NAMES ARE
NOT ON THE PRECINCT REGISTER;
  C. PROPER OPERATION OF THE VOTING SYSTEM;
  D. BALLOT HANDLING PROCEDURES;
  E. PROCEDURES GOVERNING SPOILED BALLOTS;
  F. PROCEDURES TO BE FOLLOWED AFTER THE POLLS CLOSE;
  G. RIGHTS OF VOTERS AT THE POLLS;
  H. PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING EMERGENCY SITUATIONS;
  I. PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING AND PROCESSING PROVISIONAL BALLOTS; AND
  J.  SECURITY PROCEDURES.
  S 2. The election law is amended by adding a  new  section  17-133  to
read as follows:
  S 17-133. ILLEGAL VOTER SUPPRESSION. ANY PERSON WHO:
  1.  COMMITS  VOTER  INTIMIDATION  OR  CONSPIRES TO COMMIT VOTER INTIM-
IDATION WILL BE GUILTY OF A FELONY, PUNISHABLE BY UP TO THREE  YEARS  IN
PRISON AND A FINE OF UP TO ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS; OR
  2.  COMMITS VOTER SUPPRESSION OR CONSPIRES TO COMMIT VOTER SUPPRESSION
WILL BE GUILTY OF A FELONY, PUNISHABLE BY UP TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON  AND
A FINE OF FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS; OR

S. 7585                             3

  3.  WILLFULLY VIOLATES ANY OTHER PART OF SECTION 5-108 OF THIS CHAPTER
WILL BE GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR, PUNISHABLE BY UP TO ONE YEAR IN PRISON,
A FINE OF UP TO TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, OR BOTH.
  THE  BOARD  WILL  PROMULGATE ALL REGULATIONS NECESSARY TO ENFORCE THIS
SECTION. IN ADDITION TO CRIMINAL AND REGULATORY SANCTIONS, THIS  SECTION
MAY  BE  ENFORCED  BY  THE ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER SECTION SEVENTY OF THE
EXECUTIVE LAW.
  S 3. The election law is amended by adding a  new  section  17-135  to
read as follows:
  S  17-135.  VOTE DILUTION.  1. NO VOTING QUALIFICATION OR PREREQUISITE
TO VOTING OR STANDARD,  PRACTICE,  OR  PROCEDURE  SHALL  BE  IMPOSED  OR
APPLIED  BY  THE  STATE  OR  ANY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION IN A MANNER WHICH
RESULTS IN A DENIAL OR ABRIDGEMENT OF THE RIGHT OF ANY CITIZEN  TO  VOTE
ON  ACCOUNT  OF  RACE  OR  COLOR, RELIGION, GENDER, GENDER PREFERENCE OR
DISABILITY, OR IN CONTRAVENTION OF  THE  GUARANTEES  SET  FORTH  IN  THE
CONSTITUTION  OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, OR AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS
SECTION.
  2. A VIOLATION OF SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION IS  ESTABLISHED  IF,
BASED  ON  THE TOTALITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES, IT IS SHOWN THAT THE POLITICAL
PROCESSES LEADING TO NOMINATION OR ELECTION IN THE  STATE  OR  POLITICAL
SUBDIVISION  ARE NOT EQUALLY OPEN TO PARTICIPATION BY MEMBERS OF A CLASS
OF CITIZENS PROTECTED BY SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS  SECTION  IN  THAT  ITS
MEMBERS  HAVE  LESS  OPPORTUNITY THAN OTHER MEMBERS OF THE ELECTORATE TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS AND  TO  ELECT  REPRESENTATIVES  OF
THEIR CHOICE. THE EXTENT TO WHICH MEMBERS OF A PROTECTED CLASS HAVE BEEN
ELECTED  TO  OFFICE IN THE STATE OR POLITICAL SUBDIVISION IS ONE CIRCUM-
STANCE WHICH MAY BE CONSIDERED; PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT  NOTHING  IN  THIS
SECTION ESTABLISHES A RIGHT TO HAVE MEMBERS OF A PROTECTED CLASS ELECTED
IN NUMBERS EQUAL TO THEIR PROPORTION IN THE POPULATION.
  S  4. Article 8 of the election law is amended by adding a new title 6
to read as follows:
                                TITLE VI
                              PRECLEARANCE
SECTION 8-600. PRECLEARANCE.
  S 8-600. PRECLEARANCE.   1. A. WHENEVER THE  STATE  OR  ANY  POLITICAL
SUBDIVISION  OR  MUNICIPAL CORPORATION SHALL ENACT OR SEEK TO ADMINISTER
ANY VOTING QUALIFICATION OR PREREQUISITE TO VOTING, OR  STANDARD,  PRAC-
TICE,  OR  PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO VOTING DIFFERENT FROM THAT IN FORCE
OR EFFECT ON JANUARY FIRST, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN, SUCH STATE OR  SUBDI-
VISION OR MUNICIPAL CORPORATION MAY INSTITUTE AN ACTION IN SUPREME COURT
FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT THAT SUCH QUALIFICATION, PREREQUISITE, STAND-
ARD,  PRACTICE,  OR  PROCEDURE NEITHER HAS THE PURPOSE NOR WILL HAVE THE
EFFECT OF DENYING OR ABRIDGING THE RIGHT TO VOTE ON ACCOUNT OF  RACE  OR
COLOR, RELIGION, GENDER, GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR DISABIL-
ITY, OR IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE GUARANTEES SET FORTH IN THE CONSTITUTION
OF  THE  STATE  OF  NEW YORK, AND UNLESS AND UNTIL THE COURT ENTERS SUCH
JUDGMENT NO PERSON SHALL BE DENIED THE RIGHT  TO  VOTE  FOR  FAILURE  TO
COMPLY  WITH  SUCH  QUALIFICATION,  PREREQUISITE, STANDARD, PRACTICE, OR
PROCEDURE; PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT SUCH QUALIFICATION, PREREQUISITE, STAN-
DARD, PRACTICE, OR PROCEDURE  MAY  BE  ENFORCED  IF  THE  QUALIFICATION,
PREREQUISITE, STANDARD, PRACTICE, OR PROCEDURE HAS BEEN SUBMITTED BY THE
CHIEF  LEGAL  OFFICER  OR  OTHER  APPROPRIATE  OFFICIAL OF SUCH STATE OR
SUBDIVISION OR MUNICIPAL CORPORATION TO THE  ATTORNEY  GENERAL  AND  THE
ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS NOT INTERPOSED AN OBJECTION WITHIN SIXTY DAYS AFTER
SUCH  SUBMISSION,  OR  UPON GOOD CAUSE SHOWN, TO FACILITATE AN EXPEDITED

S. 7585                             4

APPROVAL WITHIN SIXTY DAYS AFTER SUCH SUBMISSION, THE  ATTORNEY  GENERAL
HAS AFFIRMATIVELY INDICATED THAT SUCH OBJECTION WILL NOT BE MADE.
  B.  NEITHER  AN AFFIRMATIVE INDICATION BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THAT NO
OBJECTION WILL BE MADE, NOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S  FAILURE  TO  OBJECT,
NOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ENTERED UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BAR A SUBSE-
QUENT  ACTION TO ENJOIN ENFORCEMENT OF SUCH QUALIFICATION, PREREQUISITE,
STANDARD, PRACTICE, OR PROCEDURE.
  C. IN THE EVENT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AFFIRMATIVELY INDICATES  THAT  NO
OBJECTION  WILL BE MADE WITHIN THE SIXTY DAY PERIOD FOLLOWING RECEIPT OF
A SUBMISSION, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL MAY RESERVE THE  RIGHT  TO  REEXAMINE
THE  SUBMISSION  IF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION COMES TO HIS ATTENTION DURING
THE REMAINDER OF THE SIXTY DAY  PERIOD  WHICH  WOULD  OTHERWISE  REQUIRE
OBJECTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION. ANY ACTION UNDER THIS SECTION
SHALL  BE  HEARD  AND DETERMINED BY A THREE JUDGE PANEL OF THE APPELLATE
DIVISION IN THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT  WITHIN  WHICH  THE  SUBDIVISION  OR
MUNICIPAL CORPORATION IS SITUATED, AND ANY APPEAL SHALL LIE TO THE COURT
OF APPEALS.
  2.  ANY  VOTING  QUALIFICATION OR PREREQUISITE TO VOTING, OR STANDARD,
PRACTICE, OR PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO VOTING THAT HAS THE PURPOSE OF OR
WILL HAVE THE EFFECT OF DIMINISHING THE ABILITY OF ANY CITIZENS  OF  THE
UNTIED  STATES  ON  ACCOUNT  OF  RACE OR COLOR, RELIGION, GENDER, GENDER
IDENTITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR DISABILITY, OR IN CONTRAVENTION  OF  THE
GUARANTEES  SET  FORTH  IN THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, TO
ELECT THEIR PREFERRED CANDIDATES OF CHOICE, DENIES OR ABRIDGES THE RIGHT
TO VOTE WITHIN THE MEANING OF PARAGRAPH A OF  SUBDIVISION  ONE  OF  THIS
SECTION.
  3.  THE  TERM  "PURPOSE"  AS  USED  IN  THIS SECTION SHALL INCLUDE ANY
DISCRIMINATORY PURPOSE.
  4. THE PURPOSE OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION IS  TO  PROTECT  THE
ABILITY OF SUCH CITIZENS TO ELECT THEIR PREFERRED CANDIDATES OF CHOICE.
  S  5. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed-
ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

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