New York has some of the worst voting laws in the nation.
The ballots are poorly designed, and the lines at polling places are often long. There is no early voting. The rules for absentee ballots require voters to provide the kind of justification for missing Election Day usually reserved for missing Mother’s Day. Registering is balky and old-fashioned — and Friday is the deadline for voting on Nov. 6.
Although more and more voters prefer to be unaffiliated, Friday is also the deadline to enroll as a member of a party or to switch parties to qualify to vote in that party’s primary in 2019. New York’s requirement that voters do so many months ahead helps keep power in the hands of party bosses rather than the voters.
Nationwide, voters have registered in unusually high numbers of late, even before superstar Taylor Swift used Instagram and a national music awards show to urge people to vote. And many primaries and special elections nationally have seen huge turnouts since 2016.
On Long Island, voter turnout tripled from just over 6 percent to about 20 percent in last month’s state primaries compared with 2014. Statewide, participation jumped from 11 percent in 2014 to 27 percent.
Some of that certainly was due to a marquee Democratic primary for governor, but some of it also seems to stem from a hunger to participate in the process.
New Yorkers need to register and vote, and they especially need to vote for candidates committed to improving the state’s election laws. It’s time we turned the vicious cycle of high bars and low turnout into a virtuous cycle of easy access and high participation. — The editorial board