Praising it as “long overdue action on sensible, effective, and necessary voting reforms,” NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. joined with his Senate colleagues on the first day of the 2019 legislative session, in approving a legislative package designed to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in their own government, improve access to the ballot box, and provide greater transparency in elections.
“As a former chair of the Senate Elections Committee, I know that expanding and protecting voter rights is critical to making the process easier and more accessible for larger numbers of New York residents,” said Addabbo. “Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, and it is imperative we enact measures to allow and encourage more voters to cast their ballots, while protecting the integrity of the voting process. While sensible safeguards are obviously key to ensuring the credibility of the electoral process, we must also remove unnecessarily burdensome obstacles that deter potential voters from having a voice in their own government.”
Among the reforms approved by the State Senate, which are co-sponsored by Addabbo, are initiatives to enable 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote (S.1100); establish a system of early voting (S.1102); and consolidate the state and federal primary elections into one day (S.1103).
In addition, bills were passed (S.1099 and S.1049) to make it easier for voters who move within the state to transfer their voter registrations to their new addresses, and to amend the State Constitution to allow voting by mail and reform existing absentee ballot rules. Addabbo also voted to support a proposed constitutional amendment to allow residents to register to vote on the same day as an election. The two proposed constitutional amendments must be approved again in 2020 by the Senate and Assembly, and will then be placed on the ballot for statewide voter consideration during next year’s November general election.
“In addition, and at long last, New York is taking action to close the so-called ‘LLC loophole,’ which has permitted limited liability companies to skirt existing corporate campaign contribution limits, and withhold information about the specific individuals behind the political donations,” said Addabbo. “This legislation (S.1101) is a great victory that will provide needed legal clarity and transparency in the electoral process – a step that will benefit every single resident who believes in improving the integrity and fairness of our campaign system.”
While the State Assembly has repeatedly approved many of these reforms in recent years, they have continued – until now – to languish without action in the State Senate. “We could no longer wait on the sidelines and hope for something magical to happen that would shorten the long lines and frustration at the polling sites,” the Senator stated.
“Finally, the State Assembly, State Senate and Governor are able to work together and move forward to enact these proposals into law and make sure that more New Yorkers are encouraged to participate in the voting process,” said Addabbo. “I look forward to continued progress on a variety of important issues throughout the 2019 legislative session.”