Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE

Rallying and Lobbying in Albany

This year appears to be the year of many rallies. On my own, I have attended the Unity Rally and Climate Rally and now I wanted to attend the Voting Rally on June 13, 2017. I decided to go with Common Cause knowing that the group fights for issues similar to the League, and they had a bus leaving from NYC to Albany that day. Although my goal was to attend the rally only, I was surprised and delighted when Ben (from Common Cause) notified me that I could lobby as well. He suggested that I lobby John Flanagan, a key Legislator from Long Island.

A variety of groups attended the rally. Besides Common Cause, there was Citizens United, Transit Union 100, and League. Although the rally was small, it was attended by many energized and vocal people. This article mainly describes my meeting with Senator Flanagan’s office.

Robin Greenwald from NYC and I went to the Capitol Building to meet the Senator. Because he was on the Senate
floor, we met with his associate David Previte, who was very accommodating. We discussed five voting issues.

*Early Voting S2950 –Would allow registered NYS voters to vote up to 14 days before and including Election Day. I stated that this would allow more NYS citizens the opportunity to vote when Tuesday is not available to them. I mentioned that my daughter is a nighttime shift nurse who always works on Tuesday and sleeps during the day. In
order to vote she would need to use vacation or personal time. There are many workers in NYS who can’t take a
Tuesday off and don’t have perks and would not get paid if they took time off to vote. Mr. The cost of adding
additional voting days was discussed, since NYS funds local Boards of Elections for their voting sites.

I suggested 4 days of early voting, from Saturday through and including the Tuesday of Election Day .This 4 day
period would allow more flexibility, would not interfere with any religious worship, would be less costly, and
would still allow voting on Election Day. This suggestion was noted.

*Automatic Voter Registration S5114 – Would add to security and accuracy of the voter rolls while increasing
voter participation.

I told David about my recently married daughter’s episode at her voting site. When she went to vote last time, the
paper ballot books did not have her name. Apparently her new name and address had not been updated.

*Electronic Poll Books S2788 – With the technology of today, these electronic poll books would be more accurate with frequent updates, and would be less prone to human error. The electronic poll books would also improve Election Day check-in and would cut down on long lines at the polls. The possibility of using photos to assure voter identification was mentioned. I indicated that these could be used to discriminate against certain groups.

*Flexibility to change party – Many states have open primaries and allow voters to register for their party of
choice closer to Election Day. In New York one needs to change their party affiliation quite a while before the
next Election Day. Voters frequently find out that they can not vote in their primaries because they did not change
party affiliation. I indicated that we need a bill that allows voters to change party afflation closer to election time,
perhaps six months before election time.

*Restoring parole voting rights – NYS currently denies parolees the right to vote. Three fourths of NYS
Parolees are Black or Latino; this this definitely discriminates against these groups. Unfortunately, our time was
up, and we did not have time to discuss this issue.

Reminder:

It’s membership renewal time. You can use the membership form on page 5. An additional contribution,
would be greatly appreciated as well, since the entire amount of your membership dues goes for per
member payments to the county, state and national Leagues. Other local Leagues have increased their
annual dues accordingly, but we, so far, have not done so.

Don’t forget to go to the polls on Primary Day, September 12, 2017. If you are in County Legislative
District 5, see page 1 for information on the Primary Candidate Forum. For information of other Primary
Candidate Forums, see the August/September VOTER.

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