Lessons from the primary election have guided our advocacy work in Albany over this summer. Although voters of all ages enthusiastically embraced absentee voting in June, major problems arose in mailing absentee ballots, receiving them properly, and counting the votes on time. We were encouraged to see lawmakers reconvening in July for a special session to address some of the concerns brought forward by advocates, and by Governor Cuomo’s recent Executive Orders on these issues. As the state prepares for the largest mail-in voting operation New York has ever seen, these solutions are necessary to maintain a safe and fair November election.
Thanks to these actions, all registered voters can now apply for an absentee ballot online (do it here, If you are registered in NYC); the Board of Elections will also send informational mailers to all registered voters to guide them through this process. Other changes include redesigning the absentee envelope to reduce confusion, counting absentee ballots that arrive a day after election day even if they’re not postmarked, giving voters a chance to object to their absentee ballot if these were disqualified to technical errors, and more.
We were also thrilled that a longtime CU goal—establishing automatic voter registration—was passed by the Legislature. Another bill that will allow online voter registration for New York City residents, which we strongly supported, passed the Senate.
This June, a number of reform-minded candidates supported by Citizens Union won their primary election to the legislature. We preferred Emily Gallagher, Jenifer Rajkumar and Jessica González-Rojas, three exceptionally qualified and talented women who defeated incumbents, and Khaleel Anderson, who at 24 years of age will likely become the youngest member of the state Assembly. Additionally, Donovan Richards, who has served with distinction on the City Council will make an excellent Borough President.
We will once again be evaluating candidates in races for key offices this fall. As our city and state deal with twin public health and economic crises, it is more important than ever that we send reform-minded policy makers to Albany.
In 2014, Citizens Union fought to pass a constitutional amendment that reformed New York’s rigged redistricting process by creating a new independent redistricting commission and curbing partisan gerrymandering. Earlier this summer, the Legislature took a step towards reversing this progress by approving a new constitutional amendment that would eliminate the minority party’s voice in redistricting, diminish the role of the Independent Redistricting Commission, and put redistricting power back into the hands of lawmakers.
Citizens Union strongly opposed this proposal, and the highly rushed timeline of its approval, with no room for public input. This proposal will have to pass the Legislature again early next year and to be approved by a referendum in November 2021. We plan to keep a close eye on the issue and continue to fight for a fair and open redistricting process. Read more about this here.