State law­mak­ers plan to re­view vot­ing prob­lems

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By David Klep­per

In New York state po­lit­i­cal news, law­mak­ers plan to take a closer look at the prob­lems re­ported on Elec­tion Day with an eye to­ward im­prov­ing the voter ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mean­while, sup­port­ers of a bill in­tended to make it eas­ier for molestation vic­tims to get jus­tice are cheer­ing Tues­day’s results.

Here’s a look at sto­ries mak­ing news:

Vot­ing prob­lems

There were wide­spread re­ports of mal­func­tion­ing bal­lot scan­ners and long lines at polling places Tues­day, prompt­ing calls for law­mak­ers to up­date the state’s an­ti­quated elec­tion and vot­ing laws. Now it’s up to law­mak­ers to re­view the com­plaints and fig­ure out what to do.

The Assem­bly’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Elec­tion Law will hold a pub­lic hear­ing Thurs­day in Man­hat­tan to re­view Elec­tion Day op­er­a­tions and pos­si­ble ways to im­prove the vot­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ad­vance vot­ing will likely be at the top of that list. New York is now one of a mi­nor­ity of states that don’t al­low vot­ers to cast an early bal­lot, ei­ther in per­son or through the mail.

Assem­bly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said his cham­ber is de­ter­mined to take ac­tion this year to over­haul the state’s elec­tion rules, many of which have been largely un­changed for decades.

“We have leg­is­la­tion ready to en­sure every el­i­gi­ble voter has am­ple op­por­tu­nity to vote, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of an early vot­ing pe­riod and no-ex­cuse ab­sen­tee vot­ing,” Heastie said Wed­nes­day in a state­ment. “We also plan to pass leg­is­la­tion to com­bine fed­eral and state pri­maries, bring­ing New York State in com­pli­ance with fed­eral law. We want to mod­ern­ize and stream­line voter reg­is­tra­tion by es­tab­lish­ing an on­line reg­is­tra­tion process.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Demo­crat, also listed vot­ing re­form as one of his pri­or­i­ties for the year.

Other pro­posed changes in­tended to make it eas­ier to vote in­clude over­haul­ing the state’s oner­ous reg­is­tra­tion dead­lines, which can force peo­ple to af­fil­i­ate with a party in some cases more than a year be­fore the pri­mary to cast a bal­lot.

“It is so hard to vote in this state,” Cuomo said on the ra­dio Thurs­day. “It is a joke . ... Early vot­ing! Make it eas­ier.”

Child Vic­tims Act

For years the Repub­li­can lead­ers of the state Se­nate have blocked a bill in­tended to make it eas­ier for molestation vic­tims to sue their abusers. Now, back­ers of that pro­posal are con­fi­dent the bill could soon pass af­ter Democrats flipped the cham­ber.

“It is a new day for sur­vivors of child sex­ual abuse in New York State,” read a joint state­ment from a broad coali­tion of sur­vivors and ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tions. “For the first time, we have a part­ner in the state Se­nate that can and will com­mit to pass­ing the Child Vic­tims Act . ... We an­tic­i­pate swift ac­tion.”

The state­ment was signed by groups in­clud­ing Safe Hori­zon, the Stop Abuse Cam­paign, the Foun­da­tion for Sur­vivors of Abuse, NY Loves Kids and the New York So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to Chil­dren.

The leg­is­la­tion, known as the Child Vic­tims Act, would ex­tend the crim­i­nal and civil statutes of lim­i­ta­tion for molestation go­ing for­ward, and cre­ate a one-year win­dow al­low­ing vic­tims to sue over abuse claims now barred by the statute of lim­i­ta­tions. The Catholic Church has long op­posed the last pro­vi­sion, ar­gu­ing that al­low­ing civil suits over decades-old in­ci­dents could bank­rupt any large in­sti­tu­tion that deals with chil­dren.

Repub­li­cans have long blocked the bill from get­ting a vote and sug­gested al­ter­na­tive bills that come with­out the look-back win­dow, a deal-breaker for many sup­port­ers.


Wed­nes­day: Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Ag­ing holds a pub­lic hear­ing in Al­bany fo­cused on in­de­pen­dent liv­ing and the pro­grams and ser­vices ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing se­niors who age in place.

Also Wed­nes­day: Three Assem­bly com­mit­tees fo­cused on al­co­hol and drug abuse, health and cor­rec­tions will hold a joint pub­lic hear­ing on med­i­ca­tionas­sisted treat­ment pro­grams for ad­dicts within the state’s cor­rec­tional sys­tem. The meet­ing will be held in Man­hat­tan.

Fri­day: Assem­bly Com­mit­tee on En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion talks re­cy­cling at a hear­ing in Al­bany.


Vot­ers stand in line to cast their bal­lots at P.S. 22 on Tues­day in the Prospect Heights neigh­bor­hood of Brook­lyn.

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