Carlucci’s Column: Breaking Down Voting Barriers 

New York’s voting laws lag behind much of the country, and due to unfair and burdensome restrictions, some cannot exercise their constitutional right to vote. We must do more to eliminate these obstacles, and it starts with major voting reforms.

Historically, voter turnout among young people is far lower than for other age groups. According to United States census data, less than 20 percent of young people voted in 2014’s midterm elections, as compared to about 40 percent of the general population. I am fighting to pass legislation (S.138) that will allow 16 and 17-year-old’s the right to pre-register to vote.  Its legislation that will boost voter turnout by making the process to register less confusing for first time voters. At 16-years-old, most young adults go to the DMV for the first time, and it is an age where school is still compulsory in New York so pre-registration information can easily be collected. Now when teens turn 18 they do not have to make a trip to the board of elections or a state agency to register. Right now, young people are demanding political change so lets empower them by getting them civically involved in our election process early so they can make their voice heard.

Unfortunately, under current New York election law a registered voter must re-register to vote after moving to a new county or to or from New York City. This is an obstacle for voters because many do not realize the law, until they show up to vote on Election Day and are turned away. When a person moves within their county or New York City, the Boards of elections will automatically transfer their registration once they receive notice of a change of address or when the voter completes an affidavit ballot envelope, which sets forth the new address. It begs the question, why can some move and automatically be able to vote, while others cannot? We must amend this law with legislation I sponsor (S.1732A) so New Yorkers can move anywhere within the State and vote in their new election district.

Aside from these reforms, we need early voting in New York State. New Yorkers should have the option to go to the polls before Election Day so they are not forced to choose between going to work or school and voting. New Yorkers are busy and we should make voting as convenient as possible.

Under the Democratic leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, I am confident we can and will get these voting reforms passed and end suppressive voting laws in our state.