Group rallies for voting rights reform

May 16, 2018 06:21 PM

ALBANY - There was a push at the state Capitol Friday to expand voter rights. They’re calling it "The People's Hearing." Everyday voters are coming together to ask legislators to make registering and casting ballots easier and open to more people.

The big issue discussed was while 37 other states allow early voting -- New York does not. Many of the people there say that's causing some people to be unable to exercise their right to vote and causing New York to have historically low voter turnout.

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Led by the Common Cause of New York, The People's Hearing was held on the Million Dollar Staircase.

Speakers are calling on lawmakers to allow for automatic voter registration, early voting, flexibility to change party affiliation, restoring rights to people on parole and preregistration for 16 and 17-year-olds. They hope these things combined will encourage more people to go to the polls and have their voices count.

In 2016's presidential election, New York had the eighth worst voter turnout in the nation. In 2014, we ranked 48th.

This hearing is a call to "modernize New York's elections and pass simple solutions to remove barriers to the voting process."

The hearing was held because organizers say legislators aren't listening to their constituents and the everyday people are usually not given the chance to speak in public hearing settings. They're fed up and want to be heard.

Some bills have been introduced to address some of these issues. Organizers say some have passed through the Assembly, but seem to have been put on a backburner with the Senate. It's unclear if they will be addressed this session.


WNYT Staff

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