Answers to Hard Questions
If your rep or your friends have skeptical questions about election reform, we have answers. If you still have questions, email us and we’ll get you answers.
Why election reform now?
Don’t we have bigger fish to fry?
It has to happen now to affect the 2018 election. Any change in election law should happen in advance of an election year to allow the boards of elections to set up new procedures and to allow campaigns to plan based on the way the election will be run.
Why New York, shouldn’t we be focusing nationally?
There has historically been great resistance to adopt national voting standards. Right now, nothing is going to move on the federal level.
Ok, then shouldn’t we be focusing on red states with racist laws?
NY’s antiquated voting laws are used as an excuse in states engaging in overt voter suppression. North Carolina argued in court that it can’t be in violation of the Voting Rights Act by cutting back on early voting because NY doesn’t even have early voting! Ohio’s governor pointed to NY when asked why he signed a law cutting back on early voting, saying “Don’t yell at Ohio, go yell at NY, they don’t have early voting at all."
On the cost
Won't these election reform measures cost too much money?
It’s arguable whether these measures would increase, decrease or keep costs the same. By modernizing our elections we would cut down on the amount of paper, printing, shipping, rush jobs and overtime that the state spends now on paper registration forms and poll books, and the mess that the early party affiliation change deadline creates.
Won't adding more days to vote early cost too much money?
By having early voting at designated polling locations, we likely will save money by lessening the need for training temporary workers on election day.
But we don’t have the money in this years budget.
It would have been great if voting reform measures had been included in the budget, but we can still pass it this year without implementing it this year, and that gives us a year to plan and to pass the funding in the 2018 budget.
On early voting
Doesn't early voting actually decrease turnout?
Early voting by itself doesn’t increase or decrease turnout. It’s a popular convenience for voters that makes elections easier to run and provides a fail-safe mechanism to respond to election day emergencies. It is extremely popular in all the states that have it. Turnout is influenced by many things, including whether voters are educated about early voting.
I like the idea of everyone voting together on one day as a collective civic event.
Nothing stops people from voting on election day if they prefer. We’ve heard from other states that voters who start skeptical are converted after observing efficient elections.
But things can happen that might change people’s votes up to Election Day.
If early voting discourages groups from dropping “bombshells” right before an election, that would be a good thing. NY is considering a relatively short early voting period, so the likelihood that early voters would lack late-breaking information is reduced.
On Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)
If AVR only happens through DMVs (per Cuomo's plan), won't that favor suburban voters over urban voters and ultimately maybe even Republicans over Democrats?
We support the Assembly’s approach to Automatic Voter Registration, which involves numerous agencies, not only the DMV, in automatically registering voters.
On changing party affiliation closer to primary date
Won't this change create too much unpredictability in turnout?
No other state has a deadline that forces voters to change party registration 193 days before the primary election. Aren’t you really saying that you favor a low voter turnout?
Can the boards of elections handle the logistics of this?
It’s actually more complicated to keep track of people who want to change their party affiliation but not make it effective until after the next election. The boards of elections are able to handle address changes, which reassign the voter’s polling place, until the deadline for registering. They’ll be able to handle party changes more easily.
ON CHOOSING THESE 5 ASKS
Why aren't we asking for more?
The policy analysts who we've been working with have identified these 5 measures as the most likely to pass the in the NY State legislature. Some changes require constitutional amendments, others are divisive or prohibitive. These have been tried and proven effective in other states and we think it's about time NY catches up.