Voters in central New York will see more than mere local election candidates on the ballot this year. There are also five statewide voting proposals to amend the state constitution. WAER News takes a closer look at the three voting and election related proposals.
The first proposition has several parts. Some are pretty trivial: capping the number of state senators, counting those incarcerated at their last residence for congressional races, and requiring that non-citizens and Native Americans be included in the tally of the state’s total population. .
But then there’s the part about changing the redistribution process. Jenny Breen is Associate Professor of Law at Syracuse University. She says it can be a lot to digest.
“By putting all of this in there, they are asking you to vote on a lot of things in one proposal” said Breen.
This is even if you don’t know much, understand or disagree with the most substantial. Breen says the Redistribution Amendment lowers legislative voting thresholds for approval of redesigned cards, making it a less bipartisan process.
“By removing those higher voting thresholds, it will be easier for a single party to go through the process. However, that doesn’t matter at the moment as Democrats have qualified majorities and they might even cross the threshold. the highest. But it’s really more something down the road. “
Many groups support the proposal as a whole, but not the League of Women Voters. Leaders in the Syracuse region say the redistribution changes spoil the rest of the amendment. Amanda Slisz says they’re trying to get the word out.
“This makes the redistribution process more partisan”, said Slisz. “For us this is a problem. It decreases the minority party’s participation by removing its voting protections and preventing the minority party from having a say in the final cards offered. Although there are several good ones. things about this amendment, it’s just not quite out there, and the timing is not right.
Kim Margosian, a member of the League of Women Voters, said the commission was established in 2014 and has just gotten to work based on data from the 2020 census.
“Obviously, this is the first cycle that the Independent Constituency Commission was put in place, so it’s still a whole new concept. “
“He really couldn’t play his full cycle”, Slisz intervened. “We are passing judgment on something that we don’t really know or understand. “
They say that’s the other problem: most voters who see the brief description of the modification on the ballot in the voting booth probably won’t fully capture all the details.
The other two proposals relating to voting and elections are simpler. Number three would eliminate the 10-day early voter registration requirement. Breen said 20 more states have voter registration on the same day.
“This amendment just allows the legislature to pass something like same-day voter registration if it wishes,” said Breen. “It appears to increase turnout by about 5%, and it doesn’t seem to have a partisan effect on turnout.”
“There are studies which show that more voters are emancipated by shortening or eliminating the deadline for registering on the electoral roll”, said Slisz. “In general, states that have done so have no particular problems.”
Finally, ballot proposal number four would allow the authorization of postal voting without excuse. This is partly the result of the pandemic, but Amanda Slisz the fight goes back decades.
“This is something the League of Women Voters has been tackling for 50 years.”
Slisz says 34 other states don’t need an excuse to vote by mail. She listed the benefits of the proposal.
“It’s perfect for people with disabilities or with language problems” said Slisz. “Being able to do this at home, stress free, and having the help of a loved one or an assistant could be very beneficial.”
She recognizes, however, that assistance may raise questions about coercion. And, some Republicans continue to link mail-in voting and same-day voter registration to voter fraud.
Nonetheless, Breen says there are many measures in place to ensure voters and their ballots are legitimate.
“There is simply no evidence of widespread electoral fraud,” said Breen. “It’s not something that happens. We talk about it to delegitimize our elections. It’s a very scary and dangerous thing.”
She says New York is clearly not breaking new ground by opening the door to same-day registration and mail-in ballots without excuse. But Breen says the voting proposals are part of a flurry of state-wide laws regarding voting.
“There was a real gap” said Breen. “We have a group of states that are imposing really tough voter suppression laws designed to purge voters from the lists and make it harder for people to vote. And we see another group of states that have actively passed laws that make voting easier We are therefore entering an era where your ability to vote will depend heavily on the state in which you live.
Breen said that while New York has not always been a leader in progressive election laws, the state appears determined to increase voter access.