Queens lawmaker praises new bills to introduce much-needed update to state’s voting laws

Photo: Carlotta Mohamed/QNS

On the first day of the 2019 legislative session in Albany, both chambers acted to bring sweeping reform to the state’s antiquated voting laws.

Praising it as “long overdue action on sensible, effective and necessary voting reforms,” Queens state Senator Joseph Addabbo joined with his colleagues in approving a draft of legislation designed to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in their own government, improve access to the ballot box, and provide greater transparency in elections.

“As the former chair of the Senate Elections Committee, I know that expanding and protecting voter rights is critical to making the process easier and more accessible for large numbers of New York residents,” Addabbo said. “Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, and it is imperative we enact measures to allow and encourage more voters to cast their ballots, while protecting the integrity of the voting process. While sensible safeguards are obviously key to ensuring the credibility of the electoral process, we must also remove unnecessarily burdensome obstacles that deter potential voters from having a voice in their own government.”

Among the reforms approved in the Senate, which Addabbo co-sponsored, are initiatives to enable 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote; establish a system of early voting; and consolidate the state and federal primary elections into one day.

In addition, bills were passed to make it easier for voters who move within the state to transfer their voter registrations to their new addresses, and to amend the State Constitution to allow voting by mail and reform existing absentee ballot rules.

“In addition, and at long last, New York is taking action to close the so-called ‘LLC loophole,’ which has permitted limited liability companies to skirt existing corporate campaign contribution limits, and withhold information about the specific individuals behind the political donations,” Addabbo said. “This legislation is a great victory that will provide needed legal clarity and transparency in the electoral process — a step that will benefit every single resident who believed in improving the integrity and fairness of our campaign system.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the state legislature’s passage of election reform a tremendous step forward.

“Early voting, 16- and 17-year-olds and the consolidation of state and federal primaries will help break barriers for New Yorkers every Election day,” de Blasio said. “The legislature should also be proud for passing same-day voter registration and voting by mail. We must continue to push for these reforms so that the next legislature includes them on the ballot in 2021.”