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Albany needs to pass reforms to make voting easier

A Mattituck voter casts ballot during the April

A Mattituck voter casts ballot during the April 19, 2016, New York presidential primary election. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

The State Legislature passed a bill with bipartisan support to automatically register people to vote. Last week, the governor signed it, making the state the ninth to enact automatic voter registration.

Sorry, that wasn’t New York. It was Rhode Island. Illinois is poised to become No. 10. And New York continues to simmer in its own stew of chronically low voter registration and turnout, uncompetitive elections, public demand for reform, and government inaction.

So Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday used his executive power to help expand voter registration. He directed all state agencies to make registration forms available and to help residents fill them out. A task force will look at digitizing the process. It’s a good step. But it’s not the best step. It’s not a substitute for legislative action. And it’s not as strong as measures Cuomo himself has proposed.

New York needs automatic registration whenever a citizen interacts with a state agency. It needs early voting, “no-excuse” absentee voting, combined federal and state primary dates, and simpler ballots. It should be easier for a candidate to get on the ballot, and there should be a ban on cross-endorsements by political parties so voters are not robbed of real choices.

None of this has happened. Republicans who control the State Senate refuse to budge. Cuomo, who usually gets whatever he wants, must make it a priority in the next legislative session. President Donald Trump’s controversial voter fraud commission says it wants to clean up state rolls; while we doubt that’s its goal, we agree rolls should be accurate and up to date. They also should include all New Yorkers eligible to vote.

Let’s get it right. Pass serious voting reform.