Modernize and Improve Voter Access

March 9, 2018

President's Message

Modernize and Improve Voter Access
The New York State AFL-CIO strongly urges the Legislature to enact voting reforms and improvements that will help individuals access the polls and exercise their right to vote. Individuals face systematic and administrative barriers that inhibit the ability to register and vote. We now have the technology and ability to change that and improve the dismal turnout that has plagued our elections in recent years. 

First and foremost, we should enact no-excuse absentee ballots. Modern family life makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for individuals to vote in person on election day. But, the New York State Constitution and current law requires that one must be out of their county of residence to vote absentee. We need to update those provisions to allow families who may not be out of the county, but are still unable to attend in-person, to vote.

We should also enact same day registration, fully electronic registration and allow for automatic transfer registration when a voter moves to a new address but still resides in-state to eliminate the need to re-register. Technology easily allows for each of these reforms, and given that virtually every other function of government, including the payment of taxes and renewal of licenses, can be done electronically there is no reason voter registration should be any more difficult. 

Together, these reforms will make it easier for individuals to exercise the most fundamental and basic rights in any democracy. Given the repeated and cyclical poor voter turnout and the fact New York state consistently has among the lowest voter turnouts of all 50 states, it is time to act.

Mario Cilento, President 

Call To Action

Monday, March 19, 2018, 1:00 p.m. 
100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 
Senator Marisol Alcantara, Chair of the Labor Committee will address the lobbyists.

Issue of the Week

Support Absentee Ballot Improvements (A7623 Vanel, et al/S840 Comrie)

This bill would amend the New York State Constitution to remove limitations on the reasons the legislature may pass laws to allow absentee ballot voting in primary and general elections. This will increase voter participation and make it easier for individuals to vote.

The current language in the constitution requires that a person be out of their county of residence or physically unable to vote in person due to illness or physical disability to be eligible to vote absentee. This language is too restrictive and does not account for a myriad of legitimate reasons a person may be unable to vote in person on election day.

The current restrictions do not consider that individuals have child care and family responsibilities, multiple jobs and less stable work schedules that inhibit their ability to attend the polls in person. Also, individual transportation needs vary greatly from urban to rural areas making access to the polls difficult for many people.

The need for this bill is clear. New York’s voter participation has been dismal and year after year voter turnout in New York is among the bottom of all states. This bill will address one aspect of this problem by making it easier to vote absentee for many who otherwise would not be able to vote.

Therefore this federation urges passage.

For further information contact Mike Neidl at 518-436-8516 or by email [email protected]