Albany forum explores election reforms

Mar 24, 2014

New York is behind other states when it comes to the issue of election reforms.  A forum will be held in Albany Monday that will explore changes to make voting easier.

The biggest change in the way we vote occurred several years ago when computer scanners replaced lever voting machines.  But the status quo continues in so many other ways.  Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters said she understands why.

"Legislators get elected in a certain manner.  And they really want to stay elected in that same manner.  Anything that disrupts that rhythm scares them," Bartoletti said.

But Bartoletti and other reform advocates argue the lack of change comes at a cost.  They say New York has one of the lowest voting participation rates of any state.  Bartoletti says such reforms as early voting would help.  So, too, would changing the stiff requirements now in place for voting by absentee ballot.

"If you want to vote in this state absentee, you have to provide a very good medical history of why your doctor says you can't (do it in person)," Bartoletti said.  "Or you have to say your boss wants you in Cleveland, and you won't be in town.'"

Studies show reforms such as no-excuse absentee ballots have increased voter participation in other states.

Susan Arbetter, host of WBFO's Capitol Pressroom, will moderate the forum on election reforms.  It's sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government and the League of Women Voters of New York State.