Buffalo Law Journal: “Coalition looks to reform voting in New York”

November 29, 2018

“You are a citizen who has the intelligence to vote; you should be able to decide how and where you want to vote,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a group that’s working with the Let NY Vote coalition.

Lerner spoke Wednesday night about early voting and other facets of reform the coalition is urging the state to make at an event hosted by Partnership for the Public Good at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo."

 

New York is behind 37 states that have forms of early voting in place, but the leader of a state coalition wants to change that.

“You are a citizen who has the intelligence to vote; you should be able to decide how and where you want to vote,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a group that’s working with the Let NY Vote coalition.

Lerner spoke Wednesday night about early voting and other facets of reform the coalition is urging the state to make at an event hosted by Partnership for the Public Good at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo.

Much of what New York has in place for voting is “embarrassing” and often leads to “wretched” voter turnout, Lerner told the crowd of about 40 people.

"The coalition hopes early voting can begin as soon as 2019, she said. The group is also pushing for reform that allows automatic voter registration, flexibility to easily change parties, pre-registration for teenagers and restoring voting rights for individuals released from prison.

“We see these kind of reforms all around the country,” said Lerner, an attorney and former litigator.

Let NY Vote’s compared New York’s voting systems to other states to see how it can improve. Its goal is to ensure every eligible voter has access to a safe, convenient and reliable means to cast their ballot, she said.

Digital tools exist to make voting better, but New York has been resistant, she said.

“We have the technology to do that but we’re not using that technology to increase accessibility,” she said.

Lobbying for change and then seeing it passed as law, though, could take years, Lerner noted.

Voting makes a person feel invested in government and increases civic engagement, Lerner said.

“We need to bring down these barriers (and) we can bring down these barriers,” she said."

 

Read the article in Buffalo Business First here.