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New York will vote by mail in the June primaries

Times of crisis have a strange effect. On many occasions, they bring out the very best in people. But on others, they coax our darker sides out of hiding. We see our very best healthcare workers and grocery store employees who keep our society going, but also our darker side in the politicians who took advantage of a global pandemic to suppress voters in Wisconsin. Time will tell where the virus takes New York, but at the very least, we’re glad to see that Albany is taking steps to avoid becoming the next Wisconsin.

Just last night, it was reported that all New Yorkers will receive a ballot to vote in the June primaries – you likely won’t even have to apply for a ballot. That follows the Governor’s order earlier this month allowing New Yorkers to use fear of COVID-19 infection as an excuse for voting absentee.

Voting in New York is changing so quickly that activists don’t even know what to campaign for anymore. The coronavirus is one of the worst tragedies of our era, but paradoxically, it has also accelerated some of our best democratic reforms (while, we must note, concentrating all too much power in the hands of the governor). What’s next – statewide ranked choice voting? Democracy vouchers? Nonpartisan redistricting? At the rate things are going, we might get everything we want before we even ask.

In other news…

  • While New York’s absentee ballot order is commendable, the fact is there are many New Yorkers who still aren’t registered to vote. That has put a spotlight on how hard it is for New York City residents to register online, writes Gotham Gazette. Currently, New York City only allows those with DMV-approved identification to register online, but in 2018 that only included 3.8 million of the city’s 8.5 million residents (some of whom are not yet 18). For New Yorkers without an ID, the only other way to register remotely is to print out a registration form and mail it in before the May 29 deadline. That effectively locks out residents who don’t have access to a printer. A bill (S6463/A8473) sponsored in the State Legislature by Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Michael Blake would require the New York City Board of Elections to accept registration forms submitted online, but the legislation has yet to pass. 
  • As if New Yorkers didn’t have a hard enough time registering to vote and getting a hold of ballots, they now have the state’s controversial new campaign finance system to complain about, reports Gotham Gazette. The new election laws and campaign finance regulations, which Cuomo snuck into the state budget after they were struck down by a New York Supreme Court judge, increase the number of votes gubernatorial candidates need in order to get an automatic ballot line while simultaneously decreasing the amount of time that they have to get those votes. The rules also increase the number of signatures which statewide candidates need in order to get on the ballot. When combined, these provisions seriously threaten smaller political parties, effectively locking the two-party political system into New York’s saga. (See RepUs NYC’s statement on the program from last year.)

Chapter updates: 

  • Want to learn how you can be involved with our campaigns? Join our next statewide barnstorm call on Monday April 27th at 8pm. To join the call, please click here. We hope to see you there! Please send any questions to Andrew at representalbanyny@gmail.com.
  • The next Represent Albany e-meeting will be on Wednesday, May 6th. If you’d like to attend, please contact Andrew at the email address above.

Thank you for reading! Please write repusnyc@gmail.com with any other comments, tips, or suggestions.

Love,

The Take

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