NY AG: Current election system has significant barriers to voter access

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the results of a statewide inquiry into widespread voter complaints.

The complaints stem from the April 2016 primary and found the state’s current election system presents some significant barriers to voter access in at least two major ways: (1) the state’s rules, laws and procedures for voter registration; (2) some of the rules, laws and procedures for voting itself are restricting voter access to the ballot.

“In New York, we have what amounts to legal voter suppression that the public is now aware of, focused on,” Schneiderman said. “We hope our report will focus on not just the scope of the problem but the common sense solutions to the problem.”

Schneiderman also cited long lines at the polls and broken scanning machines as several of the complaints his office received. He said they were “unacceptable” and fixing them should not be an option.

“The issue of voter suppression, legal voter suppression I might add, to become before and after this election in a way it’s never received more attention nationally in New York in the media than it ever has,” he said.

He also wants to add early voting.

“People in neighborhoods all across the country experienced the longest lines in anyone’s memory to vote; breakdown of machines; problems with registration,” he said.

The proposed changes have been rejected by the legislature. Barbara Bartoletti with the New York League of Women Voters said fatigue has played a part, especially with the three primaries held in 2016.

“People get both fatigued at a time when people have actually gone – kids have gone back to school – but people are going, ‘Really? Didn’t I just do that?’” she said.

But Matthew Clyne at the Albany County Board of Elections said he doesn’t support early voting and that the voters themselves were held responsible for a lot of the complaints.

“If you show up at the wrong polling site, even if you’re eligible to vote, you cannot vote there,” he said. “Your name isn’t going to be in the poll book. If you miss a registration deadline, your name isn’t going to be in the poll book.”

Currently, 37 states have early voting. Schneiderman said he will continue to push Governor Andrew Cuomo, assembly democrats, and senate republicans to make the electoral reforms.

Schneiderman has pledged to introduce the 2017 New York Votes Act, which he promises would reform the state’s voting system by improving voter registration, include same-day registration for new voters, and to adopt a system of early voting.

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