Making it easier to register to vote and obtain an absentee ballot, funding a system of publicly financed campaigns and launching automatic voter registration are among the measures New York officials are being urged to focus on to strengthen the state's voting infrastructure.
The Brennan Center and a coalition of advocacy organizations in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and top lawmakers in the state Legislature called for a package of changes, some of which are being implemented this year, in order to bolster faith in voting in the state.
The push for the measures comes as state lawmakers this week began the 2023 legislative session in Albany, and after legal challenges were made during last year's election season to absentee ballots.
"Last year, we witnessed a disturbing increase nationwide in election denialism, threats against election workers, and voter intimidation," the groups wrote in the letter. "New York was no exception."
The groups are calling for the approval of a measure meant to address funding at local boards of election and provide better training to elections workers -- changes that have drawn support from non-partisan voting experts.
They also want to create a database for elections meant to guard against discrimination at the ballot box. As New York's system of publicly financed campaigns comes into being, the groups are urging the full funding of the program that matches government money with small-dollar donations to candidates.
The groups are also calling for the full funding and launch of an automatic voter registration system and easier access to voter registration and obtaining an absentee ballot in New York.
New York typically is on the lower end of voter turnout, and officials in recent years have sought to expand efforts to access the ballot box through the implementation of early voting. Meanwhile, a long-sought system of publicly financed campaigns is taking shape for the new election cycle, which is meant to reduce the influence of big money in politics.
"We must maintain this momentum in 2023. Your support for the below priorities is essential to ensuring that New York is well-equipped for the consequential 2024 elections and to cement the state’s position as a national leader in protecting and strengthening democracy," the groups wrote.