The Senate attacks the electoral commissions | News, Sports, Jobs
Add electoral reform legislation to the list of pending items as the state’s legislative session draws to a close.
The state Senate has recently approved several election bills, although it is uncertain whether the legislation will be considered by the Assembly before the end of the session in early June. Bills passed include:
¯ S.424, which allows split shifts for election inspectors or poll clerks;
¯ S.823, which increases pay for election inspectors to $300 and coordinators to $350 in New York;
¯ S.4542, which prohibits conflicts of interest between election commission employees;
¯ S.5800, which requires a mandatory training program for poll workers;
¯ S.6684, which establishes minimum numbers for local election commissions;
¯ S.7382, which would allow the distribution of refreshments to increase voter turnout;
¯ S.8289, which requires a public hearing prior to the appointment of election commissioners;
¯ S.8292, which requires election commissioners to meet certain qualifications;
¯ S.8311, which makes commissioners full-time employees of the commission; and
¯ S.8337, which creates a way to remove an election commissioner.
“Much of what we see here is under the guise of professionalizing our local election commissions,” Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, told the Senate.
“But these are largely unfunded mandates and again, as a 10-year veteran of county government, I can tell you that there is already a huge burden, especially on our election commissions. . We have a small number of people. Now, if we want to provide funds, that’s another story. I’m still no on a lot of them, regardless of funding, but the end result is that much of what we see today is an unfunded burden on our local governments and their ability to organize elections. So I will be no.
Rep. Rachel May referenced a hotly contested 2020 race for the U.S. House of Representatives between Rep. Claudia Tenney and Anthony Brindisi that was officially indecisive for about four months. A state judge ruled that Tenney won the race by 109 votes and ordered the results to be certified. The legal battle included a court ruling over 1,100 sworn ballots that were challenged and drew criticism from the judge handling the County Election Commissions case in the House District for a range of issues which caused confusion over whether some disputed ballots were officially rejected. or not.
“I stand in support of this entire package of bills aimed at improving election administration in New York State,” said May, a Democrat from Syracuse. “My district was the scene of an election debacle in 2020. We will never know the true will of voters in a congressional election that ended with just a few votes. After a lengthy court case that exposed an astonishing number of irregularities and missteps by election commissioners in multiple counties. I thank my colleagues for taking this step today to ensure that the electoral commissioners are qualified, duly vetted and trained and that they have the staff they need and that they can be removed when there is instead of doing it.
Specifically, Borrello also singled out S.7382 for opposition. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, repeals Section 17-140 of the Elections Act in its entirety, typically
called the “ban on warming the line.” These provisions have been criticized since legislation enacted in Georgia included a ban on giving water or food within a certain distance of voters or polling stations. New York law states that it is prohibited to provide “meat, drink, tobacco, refreshment or provision” to an elector at a polling place, unless the retail value is less than $1 and the person or entity providing it is not identified.
Critics of Georgia’s legislation have said the ban on giving water online to vote is a form of voter suppression. Borrello said the law did not reduce voter turnout in Georgia, which has seen significantly higher voter turnout since a ban on giving water or food near polling places.
“While I certainly understand the impetus behind the idea of handing out refreshments in what could be long lines, this bill bothers me greatly for a number of reasons,” said Borello. “First and foremost, it’s very vague. Second, I don’t really believe we’re going to stop people from cold calling when they’re handing out refreshments. The reality is we see these types of special interest groups coming up and we can never really prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re handing out a bottle of water that they’re not discussing who they should vote while they are online.
Anyone prosecuted under New York law can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in prison or three years probation and a fine of up to $1,000 if they is found guilty. Myrie wrote in her legislative rationale that New York can have long lines to vote and that banning food and drink places an additional burden on voters.
“The law is outdated, cumbersome, vague and potentially unconstitutional. Simply put, it does not serve a legitimate purpose in the administration of elections in our state and as such should be repealed,” Myrie wrote in her legislative rationale. He did not speak on behalf of the Senate floor bill.
Borrello said it’s ironic that water can be dispensed in plastic bottles at polling places, but isn’t available in plastic bottles in state parks under law. contemplated by the state legislature.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t buy a bottle of water in our state parks thanks to a bill we passed here,” said Borello. “If you walk into a New York state park, some of them are very large in my neighborhood and you forget to bring a bottle of water, you can’t buy one there.”