Two ballot measures that had been at the top of New York Democrats’ to-do list for years were defeated on Election Day: an amendment that could have led to same-day voter registration and another to allow for no-excuse absentee voting.  

But 65 organizations around the state aren’t giving up on these issues and several others.

This coalition sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders urging them to make voting and campaign finance their top priorities this session. 

Capital Tonight discussed the letter and the accompanying campaign with Chisun Lee, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program.

“Labor, voting rights, racial justice and good government groups (are) coming together to say, 'this vote was a wake-up call for New York. There are forces right now trying to undermine our democracy and suppress voting,'" Lee said. “And it’s time for state leaders, the governor and legislative leaders to show that they heard this problem and that they’re going to step up in 2022.”

As evidence that “proponents of the Big Lie” are working in New York, the letter’s signers point to the “multi-million-dollar campaign right out of the Stop the Steal playbook” that targeted the two voting-related initiatives on November’s ballot.

When it was pointed out to Lee that the Democratic Party spent no money explaining the ballot questions to voters, Lee said that the majority of New Yorkers support this kind of voting expansion.

“They’re nothing radical. They are reforms that exist in all parts of this country and have for many, many years,” Lee said. “Same day registration aligns when people are interested in voting with when they can go and vote. No-excuse vote-by-mail, we’ve seen increasingly people turning to this for basic safety and convenience measures in a state where people are still worried about health repercussions.”

The other reforms the coalition is pushing for include:

  • Addressing the structural problems with state and local Boards of Elections that create barriers for voters 
  • Funding the state’s small donor public financing program with $67 million, approximately half of the estimated cost for the 2024 cycle
  • Enacting the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York to help expand access to voting for people of color