Category Archives: Elections

Support Voting Reform Efforts in New York NOW

(Photo by April Sikorski from Brooklyn, USA (vote here) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The movement for voting reform in New York State is gaining momentum – and not a moment too soon. While other states have taken measures to modernize and streamline their voting systems, New York has remained mired in rules and arbitrary deadlines that prevent thousands of residents from realizing their right to vote, leaving our state’s voter turnout rates embarrassingly low.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Right now, 37 states offer early voting, a reform that greatly eases the voting process, and a growing number offer same-day and automatic voter registration. The latter reform has been shown to have the greatest impact on increasing voter participation, particularly among young voters, new residents, and immigrants. The primary obstacle to enacting these changes here in New York is a lack of political will. But that is changing.

Last month, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman introduced the “New York Votes Act,” calling for same-day registration, automatic registration, and early voting. New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and the Senate Democratic Conference have released an official report on the barriers to voting in New York and introduced a legislative package calling for many of the same reforms. Just this Sunday, thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Battery Park to voice their support for voting reforms.

Now, all eyes are on the final budget, due on April 1. Will Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature do the right thing or will he waffle and delay as he has done before? Please join us in making sure they commit to change!

Call and email Governor Cuomo. Tell him you support his pro-voter budget proposal and want to see it funded and enacted: call 518-474-1041(press 1); email gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us.

You can also find your State Senator and Assembly Member and ask them to support voting reform, including early voting and automatic or same-day registration.

Thank you so much for helping to keep the pressure on this important issue. There is everything to be gained when we stand and fight for our most basic rights, and everything to be lost when we don’t.

 

#Resist.

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In the week since Election Day, we’ve seen more than 100 years of social and economic justice advocacy and legislation threatened and the cherished diversity of American society thrown into question. Not only the Affordable Care Act, but also Medicare is under siege. A Muslim registry has been proposed. Deportation forces that are opposed by the governments and police of our largest, most vibrant cities are planned. And, most tellingly, an array of bigots, xenophobes, racists, outsourcers, climate-change deniers, and just brutish and incompetent people is lining up to lead our nation at home and abroad.

Many of you have joined in protest. You’ve said #NotMyPresident, loud and clear. We urge you to continue, but also to resist the gradual “normalization” of this administration-in-waiting. There is nothing “normal” or “American” about what is being proposed.

What to do, right now? Here are three suggestions:

  • Read–and learn. Congressman Jerry Nadler has just come out with a must-read primer demonstrating how to use existing government as a tool of resistance.
  • Organize. Join one or more of the meetings taking place across New York to plot our collective way forward. There’s one called Rise Up Together: The American Majority Against Trump this Sunday, November 20th, from 6 to 8 pm at The Center at 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan.
  • Help. Support the neediest and most vulnerable–those who are immediately threatened. We’ll be making more suggestions, but you can start by supporting and empowering the Muslim community; defending reproductive choice and the right to free or affordable contraception; informing and protecting our immigrant neighbors and families; and standing up for the right to health care by using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage.

If there was ever time for solidarity, it’s NOWWe’re partners in the campaign to #CLOSErikers. Join us for a vigil outside Gracie Mansion on Sunday afternoon, December 4th

Let’s flip Long Island Blue!

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Organizer Dale in front of Sen. Kaminsky’s office. Our volunteers helped make it happen!

While we’re on the ground in Pennsylvania, there’s work to be done in New York. Democrats have three terrific, progressive candidates in key districts in Long Island’s Nassau County, which has long been dominated by GOP elected officials far out of touch with today’s constituencies:

  • District 7 (North Shore): Adam Haber has a good shot at this seat, but turnout will be key.
  • District 9 (South Shore): Todd Kaminsky won the Special Election in April by running an effective ground game, with the help of ourvolunteers! Now the state GOP is propping up the same opponent.
  • District 6 (Mid-Island): Ryan Cronin can edge out the incumbent this year!

Campaign 2016 Kickoff

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Throughout the year, you’ve helped others secure a living wage and affordable housing, expanding access to health care, limiting discrimination and disenfranchisement on the basis of color or gender, and ensuring a fairer, more ethical, more participatory democracy and government that work for us all.
This fall, all those issues and more are on the line. That’s why we’re asking you to join us in knocking on doors, making phone calls, and encouraging people to vote, participate–and move the ball forward toward a better future.
GNYCFC volunteers will be traveling to Pennsylvania to help keep that battleground state Blue and to neighborhoods in Long Island and the Hudson Valley to elect a progressive majority in the New York State Senate. It’s fun, and it’s the best way to ensure that you won’t wake up on November 9th wishing you’d done more.

SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER FOR HILLARY AND FEDERAL ELECTION CANDIDATES IN PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania is a swing state on the presidential level, and we have a chance to elect the state’s first woman senator ever in Katie McGinty. In 2012, KeepPABlue helped move the election dial a few points forward to re-elect President Barack Obama; this year, buses will leave and return to Union Square every Saturday and all GOTV days starting September 17th. No prior canvassing experience is necessary.
SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER TO FLIP THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Our state senate races receive less media attention than the Presidential race, but much of the dysfunction in our state is a result of the continued Republican control of the State Senate. This year we have a real chance to win back the State Senate, and you can help. There will be phone banks in Manhattan and day canvassing trips to key senate districts outside the city to campaign for great progressive candidates. Free transportation is provided, and no prior canvassing or calling experience is needed.
Let’s work together this fall. We can win this, together!

#DemandDemocracy

Demand Democracy New York

Today, 89% of New Yorkers say that corruption in Albany is a serious problem. Only 31% of eligible voters vote. It’s time to stand up and #Demand DemocracyNOW.

New Yorkers, like all Americans, are raised to believe in the fundamental right to vote and to have their vote represented in political decision-making. It’s the cornerstone of participatory democracy and representative government. Yet widespread voting irregularities in recent elections and low registration and turnout have illuminated how hard it is for New Yorkers to vote and to have their votes count.

Then there’s money, which effectively determines that the rich and powerful—the new “billionaire class”—count more in our political system than average New Yorkers.

Faced with our two legislative leaders in Albany sentenced to prison for corruption and voting irregularities that denied the right to vote to numerous qualified New Yorkers, a coalition of community, labor, faith, and advocacy organizations has put forward a plan to resolve the crisis of democracy in New York State.

Under the name “Demand Democracy,” the groups have united behind a platform of bold changes to voting, ethics, and campaign finance laws. If enacted, these changes would limit the influence of the wealthy over our government and break down barriers to voter participation. The coalition is insisting that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature act on these changes NOW, before the end of this year’s legislative session.

Here’s the platform:

  • Publicly funded elections, with small-donor contributions matched with public dollars to elevate the voices of everyday New Yorkers
  • Comprehensive campaign finance reform that limits big money and its influence over elections. Measures include closing the LLC loophole, lowering contribution limits for candidates and committees, and limiting transfers, while supporting the federal call to overturn Citizens United.
  • Modernization of voting to strengthen democracy through automatic registration, online registration and updating, and flexible voting opportunities, including early voting, to reduce the hurdles that prevent people from getting to the polls
  • Expansion and protection of voting rights by restoring the right to vote to some 40,000 New Yorkers currently on parole, investigating purges of voter rolls, and instituting support, training, and oversight by non-political, non-partisan boards of election
  • Meaningful ethics reform that restores faith in democracy. This entails eliminating pension benefits for convicted officials and creating a full-time legislature with strong conflict-of-interest rules, full disclosure of outside income, and bans on personal use of campaign funds.

In short, we’re demanding that voting be easy, that all votes count, and that politicians work for #allofus, not just the few.

You can find out more about this effort (including the names of the huge and growing coalition) at DemandDemocracy.org. But here’s what you can do right away:

SIGN THE PETITION to #DemandDemocracy–then share!

ATTEND THE PRESS CONFERENCE in New York City this Thursday (TOMORROW):
WHAT:     NYC Kick-Off Press Event
WHEN:   Thursday, May 26, 11:00 AM
WHERE: Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street, NYC 10007

PARTICIPATE IN THE WEEK OF ACTION, June 6-13, with house parties, protests, rallies, forums, social media actions, and much more. Hit the streets! Watch the Demand Democracy website and Facebook for more information.

Let’s Make It Easier to Vote.

Last Tuesday, New Yorkers cast their votes in the Presidential primaries, as well as some special elections for Assembly and State Senate. And just as in years past, there were problems–so many that Comptroller Scott Stringer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have opened investigations.

Problems at poll sites are nothing new, but New York is way behind many other states in enacting basic election reforms that could increase turnout and reduce errors. That’s why election reform advocates will be descending on Albany on May 3rd to implore legislators to pass a trio of laws:

  • Early Voting, so we have more than one day to cast ballots
  • The Voter Empowerment Act, to modernize our voter registration system so that everyone who wants to participate, can
  • The Voter Friendly Ballot Act, to create easier-to-read ballots

We New Yorkers like to think of our state as a progressive beacon, but the truth is we’re one of 27 states that do not have any form of early voting, and one of 20 states that require an excuse for absentee voting.

So what can we do?

  1. Sign the #VoteBetterNY petition.
  2. Follow NYCVotes on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
  3. Sign up to go to Albany on May 3rd and advocate for reform.

When only 30% of eligible voters show up to cast a ballot, that tells us there is something fundamentally wrong with our election system. We must do everything in our power to bring New York to the forefront of voter access and enfranchisement.