The State Assembly passed a package of voting reforms last week. That’s good. But it has done that before and the legislation died in the Senate. That cannot happen again.
Why? New evidence for the urgency of making changes. It’s called the 2016 election.
- Thousands of New Yorkers couldn’t cast ballots in the presidential primary because they missed ludicrous deadlines to register or change party affiliations.
- New York again finished in the lowest quarter of states in voter turnout.
- Too many candidates in local races faced no or only token opposition.
The Assembly package is not a perfect response, but it is a start. It includes provisions for early voting, “no-excuse” absentee balloting, combined federal and state primary dates, and easier registration. It needs to go further, especially on simplifying and expanding voter registration by making it automatic for anyone doing business with state agencies. And it must ensure voters have real choices by making it easier for candidates to get on ballots — beginning with banning cross-endorsements, a plague in Suffolk County in particular.
The State Senate must break its recent mold, take up and improve the Assembly’s legislation. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo needs to rediscover either the passion or the political calculation that led him to propose his own strong set of measures in January and help move a good package forward.
Failure to do so would be politics as usual, and the voters also made clear in 2016 what they think about that.— The editorial board