Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), who joins Governor Andrew Cuomo today as he signs historic legislation expanding voting rights in New York State, issued the following statement:
“Today, New York is ushering in a new era that finally brings the state into the 21st Century and expands access to democracy for citizens across the state. This legislation is long overdue and an important step in the right direction to reforming the State’s antiquated election system. New York’s electoral process was one that proved voter suppression is not just a southern issue. New York, one of 12 states without early voting, maintained some of the most restrictive election laws in the nation and historically saw some of the lowest turnout rates in the country as a result.
“This legislation’s promise to expanding access to the ballot box by allowing early voting, addressing the influence of big money in politics, and consolidating the election calendar, will quell some of the most discriminatory and restrictive components of the State’s voting process. Governor Cuomo, the New York State legislature, advocates and New York voters have come together to secure meaningful reforms that will modernize and transform the electoral system.
With the help of our Election Protection coalition partners, the Lawyers’ Committee is undertaking a two-year campaign to combat voter suppression in advance of the 2020 election cycle, with a focus on parts of the country where the problems are greatest. The Lawyers’ Committee will continue to engage with election officials and lawmakers to advocate for policies and practices that remove barriers to voting and ensure that all voters can exercise their right to vote without undue burden.
The law signed by Governor Cuomo today institutes early voting, allows high school students to preregister so that they’re automatically registered to vote at 18, consolidates federal and state primaries on the same day, and limits the amount that limited liability companies can donate to political candidates. Two other provisions, Same Day Registration and no-excuse absentee-voting, must be passed as constitutional amendments.
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