I was there to take pictures and video as at least 100 demonstrators turned out today in Manhattan’s Foley Square amid bright sun and cold temperatures to rally for the introduction of at least 14 days of early voting. The first in a series of livestream videos I filmed at the event can be seen here:
Posted by Cat Watters on Sunday, March 18, 2018
New York remains one of only 11 American states that do not offer any form of early voting. Speakers at the event included:
- Stanley Fritz, Citizen Action (MC)
- Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
- Minister Kirsten John Foy, National Action Network
- Letitia James,Public Advocate
- Brian Kavanagh, State Senator
- Carolyn B. Maloney, Congresswoman NY-12
- Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General
- Ricky Silver, Empire State Indivisible
- Mazeda Uddin, South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship & Training
- L. Joy Williams, Brooklyn NAACP
- Pastor Zac, Faith in NY
Demonstrator Kathy Kaufman told me why she was out today in support of early voting: “Voting is foundational to our Democracy and the more votes we have the better, stronger and more progressive our Government will be”. In response to my question of how she felt about our current one weekday voting we have now Kathy said, “Some people have an impediment to voting and the more barriers we can break down the better”.
Elise Nakhnikian of Common Cause told me the following at the event:
“It’s really about fairness in voting and making voting accessible. There are many people who have more than one job these days, or maybe they’re taking care of an aging parent, or maybe they’re in school. If you have early voting it just makes it possible for more people to vote. WHY WOULD WE NOT WANT MORE PEOPLE TO VOTE?”
They should want people to vote, women couldn’t vote til the beginning of the last century, black people couldn’t vote a little before that. There have been a lot of roadblocks to voting even though we like to think of ourselves as being an open Democracy, there’s been a fight for that”. “Not allowing ex-felons to vote in so many states ends up disenfranchising mostly black and poor people”.
The impressive L. Joy Williams of the Brooklyn NAACP spoke to the crowd:
“This is not a new fight, we have been pushing this issue to expand voter registration, we’ve been pushing the issue for early voting. We’re going to Albany tomorrow to lobby the Assembly members to make sure that we don’t have 8 days of early voting, not 12 days of early voting but, to make sure that we have at least 14 days of early voting in NY state”.
“There is No Right more important than the right to vote”, Schneiderman began his talk, “and impeding the right to vote is not only undemocratic it’s un-American”. Schneiderman then gave a history lesson about the site of Foley Square stating that it was “the site of three different British prisons where they locked up advocates for democracy in the time around the Revolutionary war”. Video of Eric Schneiderman’s speech can be seen at minute seven of the livestream video above.
Stanley Fritz of Citizen Action, the MC of the event, told the crowd that Governor Cuomo put $7.1 million in the budget for early voting. The he reminded everyone, “Unfortunately the NY State Senate has not”, eliciting boos from the crowd. Fritz said “NY State has progressive policies in the year 2018 but has voter laws stuck in the 1800’s”. “WE NEED CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM FOR NY STATE!”.
Andrea Bundy, who has been working at JFK airport for five years and who has been impacted herself by the draconian voting ‘laws’ stated, “As a single mom I have to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week to be able to support my young daughter”. Clearly Andrea and others like her would have extreme difficulty finding the time to vote on a Tuesday. You can see Andrea Bundy speak at minute 10 of the livestream video above.
This second livestream video I captured at the event and has Scott Stringer speaking:
Posted by Cat Watters on Sunday, March 18, 2018
For more information, checkout the event’s facebook page titled “Rally for Early Voting in NY“. From the event description:
No one should have to choose between their job, their personal responsibilities and their vote. It’s time for Albany to hear us loud & clear: 2018 is the year NY gets Early Voting! With money pay for early voting included in the Governor and Assembly budgets, we’ve never been closer to joining the 37 other states that have Early Voting.
But now we need to convince our State Senators to accept the money and include Early Voting in the final state budget. Negotiations are going on throughout March behind closed doors in Albany, so they need to hear from us loud and clear! We need every concerned New Yorker to come out and join us to be sure our leaders get the message that we expect them to keep money for Early Voting in the budget, and Let NY Vote!
The rally was co-sponsored by members of the Let NY Vote coalition, which includes over thirty organizations, nonprofits, and labor unions, including Common Cause/NY, Public Citizen, New York State United Teachers, SEIU 32BJ, RWDSU, CWA District 1, as well as the statewide NAACP and the National Action Network, grassroots organizations, faith groups, civil liberties, reproductive and immigrant rights, criminal justice and re-entry groups, New American, and the LGBTQ community. A full list is available at letnyvote.org