Media Contact: Betsy Vorce
WESTCHESTER STATE SENATE CANDIDATES RESPOND TO NEW COMMITTEE REQUEST FOR POSITIONS ON ANTI-CORRUPTION AND VOTING REFORM
New York, NY – March 29, 2018 -- The Committee to Reform the State Constitution, www.committee2reform.org, was formed this year to elect candidates for state office in New York who will advocate for needed reforms, particularly in the areas of anti-corruption and voting. The Committee believes that the only way reform will occur is through voter pressure at the ballot box to elect real reformers and is registered as an independent expenditure committee with the New York State Board of Elections.
State Senate candidate Julie Killian has informed the Committee in response to its inquiry that she opposes early voting, a critical voting reform which the Committee strongly supports. The Committee has decided to inform the Board of Elections that it intends to urge opposition to the candidacy of Julie Killian in the April 24th special election to fill a State Senate vacancy in Westchester County. It is the consensus opinion of the Committee to urge voters that her opposition to early voting is a good reason not to vote for candidate Killian.
Candidate Killian explained her reason for opposing early voting, saying, “I think it is extremely cost prohibitive and open to fraud. I believe voters should vote on Election Day. I would support making Election Day a national or state holiday, to ensure voters have the opportunity to vote. If they are unable to vote on Election Day, they should vote by absentee ballot.” She also supported passing voter ID laws, which would require an amendment to the state Constitution. Since 1938, the Constitution has specified that voter identification will be by signature.
Early voting is allowed in 37 states and the District of Columbia. New York’s voter turnout is abominable. In the last midterm election (2014), New York turnout ranked 49th in the nation. Even in last year’s competitive race for Westchester County Executive, roughly only one third of the 600,000 eligible voters turned out. The Committee believes that the benefits to democracy from multi-day voting justify the cost, which the Governor supported with a seven million dollar appropriation in his proposed budget, and that early voting creates no risk of any increase in voter fraud and likely reduces that risk by allowing greater time for polling officials to do their job.
The Committee’s decision recognizes that voters may want to consider other factors when deciding how to vote. However, the Committee intends to urge voters to, at a minimum, give great weight to candidate Killian’s opposition to early voting.
The Committee also wishes to emphasize that both candidates Killian and Mayer expressed support for constitutional amendments to allow absentee voting for any reason and to shorten the deadline for voter registration to no more than seven days before the election. Currently a voter must register 25 days before the election and under the state Constitution may vote absentee only if physically unable to get to the polls due to disability or absence. It is encouraging that both candidates want to increase voter turnout and make elected officials more accountable to the public as opposed to the party interests that tend to dominate in low-turnout elections. However, the problem is so serious that all reasonable steps, including multi-day voting, need to be taken.
The Committee also is gratified that both candidates support enacting a constitutional amendment to replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission with a single, truly independent entity needed to vigorously enforce the State’s ethics laws. This shows the real potential for bi-partisan support of the amendment. As Julie Killian said in her response to the Committee’s inquiry, “JCOPE has failed to act in an independent manner and has lost the confidence of the people.”