Dubbing the 25 percent participation in 2014’s midterm general election “abysmal,” city Comptroller Scott M. Stringer called for 16 diverse election reforms on Sunday “to make it easier for every New Yorker to register and vote.”
Participation of registered voters in NYC has sunk from 61 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in the 2014 gubernatorial and midterm elections, when New York state turnout ranked 48th out of 50 states, Stringer said, in a City Hall press conference publicizing his new report, “Barriers to the Ballot.”
Among the reforms Stringer urged was for the City Board of Elections to notify voters about upcoming elections more frequently than once a year and to use “modern methods of communication” such as email and text messages to do so.
Several of the improvements he advocated are the subject of legislation in Albany: “No excuse absentee voting,” which permits any voter to request an absentee ballot for any reason; permitting in-person voting up to a week prior to Election Day (including weekends); a vote-by-mail system such as those already adopted by Oregon, Washington and Colorado, and “pre-registration” for 16- and 17-year-olds so they can vote as soon as they are 18 are all good reforms, Stringer said.
“Same day registration,” at the polls, as permitted by 11 other states, is another way to boost involvement, Stringer said, (and also the subject of proposed legislation).
And “instant runoff voting” would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, preventing costly runoff elections two weeks after primaries, Stringer said.