With all the attention given to voting and election law fights in Georgia, Texas, and other states, few have paid attention to three proposals here in New York. While Democrats proclaim these measures as "reform," they're actually attempting to rig the political game in their favor and hope no one is paying attention.
Albany legislative leaders have cynically placed three constitutional amendments on the November ballot seeking to permanently enshrine their political advantage. Regardless of party, voters need to become aware of this terrible trifecta and decisively reject these hyperpartisan plans.
The first amendment would authorize no-excuse absentee voting. Current state law allows absentee ballots to be cast if the voter is away from home for any reason or is sick or disabled. Waiving this requirement in 2020 because of the pandemic meant local boards of elections had to deal with unprecedented numbers of paper absentee ballots.
That resulted in extraordinary delays in deciding election outcomes. One upstate congressional race had nearly 60,000 absentee ballots and took three months and much legal wrangling to decide. A New York City Democratic congressional primary tallied more than 60,000 absentees and took over six weeks to determine the winner.
Election boards now administer Election Day voting and early voting. Adding massive numbers of paper absentee ballots will unreasonably delay election outcomes in close races and add to public suspicions about the validity of elections.
A second amendment permits Election Day voter registration. Plain and simple, this is an invitation to fraud. Harried poll workers won’t have time to verify eligibility of someone showing up at the polls. Even worse, the newly registered voter could be allowed to vote on machine and not be required to cast a provisional paper ballot so that their eligibility could be verified later. Election Day registration is also not needed. A citizen can now register to vote up to 10 days before an election, plenty of time by the normal, verifiable process.
Lastly, the Democrats seek to enshrine one-party rule in New York by sabotaging the constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2014 to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission. Inspired by former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, the reforms established a bipartisan commission to undertake the once-in-a-decade task of redrawing congressional and legislative district lines. New York State is losing a congressional seat and all legislative and congressional districts must be adjusted to reflect population shifts. The 2014 reform was carefully balanced so as not to favor one political party over the other and, for the first time, created standards to guide mapmaking. Respect for communities, protection of racial and religious minorities, and other reforms are now enshrined in New York’s constitution.
Democrats don’t want to allow these reforms to control the upcoming redistricting and are instead proposing a new amendment to make it easier to bypass the minority party in drawing new district lines.
The message that must be sent to Albany insiders is that voters and not political bosses should decide who represents them in Albany and Washington. Regardless of party, this November New Yorkers should vote a resounding "no" on these amendments.
The real scam is not occurring in Texas. Instead, it is happening right here in the Empire State courtesy of cynical legislators, exhibiting a profound disrespect for honest and fair elections.
This guest essay reflects the views of John J. Faso, who served as a member of Congress and as minority leader of the state Assembly.