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To the Editor:
Our state has a voting problem. In the 2016 election, 56.2% of eligible New
York voters voted, ranking 42nd in the country. Our democracy thrives when
all are able to engage in the election process. This means ensuring people's
ability to vote through a number of potential new measures.
New York State is one of only 13 states without early voting. Early voting
allows flexibility for voters to vote when they are able to, while juggling
work and familial obligations, rather than struggling to find time to vote
only on Election Day, or being prevented from voting altogether. Early
voting removes this obstacle. Similarly, automatic voter registration, done
through the Department of Motor Vehicles, streamlines the voter registration
process. The resulting system would be more convenient, with shared
information reducing errors and redundancies, all while cutting costs. Same
day voter registration allows eligible voters to register to vote, and
ultimately vote, even if they have not yet had the opportunity to register
before Election Day.
In order to apply for an absentee ballot in New York State the voter must
provide a reason for the absence or inability to make it to the polls. New
York should join the majority of states across the country and not require
an excuse. Such policies do not protect our elections, or enhance the voting
experience, but serve only as a deterrent and invasion of privacy.
When I recently polled my constituents on their thoughts on these proposals,
early voting and automatic voter registration had the support of 69% and
68.1% of respondents respectively. Same day voter registration received
55.7% support from my constituents. This session I will continue my support
of, and advocacy for, legislation that ensures that New York lives up to its
promise and makes voting a right and not a privilege. The laws of the state
should never be the reason an eligible person does not vote in our
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef
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