Today, Mike Bloomberg announced his “Easy to Vote & Easy to Run” plan to transform the City’s election system over the next four years. The plan will make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in the democratic process by reforming New York’s antiquated ballot access laws to enable more candidates to run for office and give unaffiliated voters greater ability to participate in the democratic process, creating a New York City “Democracy Index” to assess the administration of elections in New York City, and urging Congress to pass laws that enable automatic registration of all eligible voters and to move Election Day from Tuesday to the weekend.
Since taking office in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg has been a vocal advocate for election reform. After the 2004 presidential election, the Mayor created the Election Modernization Task Force to provide guidance to the Board of Elections on new voting machine implementation, phone and Internet voter assistance, poll worker training, and other issues. Many Task Force recommendations were incorporated into 2005 State legislation, ensuring the City received federal funds to comply with new voting machine regulations. Today’s announcement builds on the Mayor’s record of accomplishment.
“For far too long, our election system has been plagued with antiquated rules and procedures that effectively limit its fairness and effectiveness,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This plan will enable more New Yorkers to engage in the democratic process by making it easier for them to run for office and easier for them to vote.”
Key Elements of Mike’s “Easy to Vote & Easy to Run” Plan:
*Create a “Democracy Index” to Reform NYC’s Election System: The city’s “Democracy Index” will include metrics that assess the effectiveness of the election administration process, focusing on easily comprehensible and quantifiable performance outputs related to registration, voting and tabulation, rather than complicated policy inputs. For example, the index will measure how long voters must wait in line and how long it takes for voter registrations to be processed.
*Make 311 NYC’s Voting Hotline: Mayor Bloomberg will work with the City’s Board of Elections to enable 311 to field all election-related requests for information, including questions regarding poll site location, absentee ballots, and complaints about election administration or fraud.
*Support National Voter Registration Modernization: To boost voter turnout while making our election administration less costly and more efficient, Mayor Bloomberg will support the federal effort to automatically register all eligible voters, also known as “Voter Registration Modernization.” This important reform would save the Board of Elections time and money that it can then put towards preparing for Election Day.
*Support Federal Effort to Institute Weekend Voting: To make it easier for voters to exercise their right and to increase voter turnout, Mayor Bloomberg will call on Congress to pass the Weekend Voting Act, sponsored by Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Congressman Steve Israel of Long Island, which seeks to shift Election Day from Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday. In polls, one quarter of eligible voters who failed to vote blamed scheduling difficulties.
*Halve the Signature Requirement for the Petitioning Process: In order to make it easier for candidates to qualify for a spot on the ballot, the Mayor proposes changing State election law to halve the number of signatures required to the lesser of (a) 2.5% of the party voters in the district or (b) half of the current number required under State law.
*Streamline Ballot Access Requirements: After consulting with good government groups, the Mayor will propose State legislation that would significantly simplify and streamline petition requirements by eliminating the arcane, technical rules that currently exist. The legislation will set a higher threshold for disqualifying petitions and candidates, and streamline the process for correcting errors.
*Open Up Petitioning Process to Independent Voters: Independent voters represent nearly 20% of the electorate and are the fastest growing group of voters in the city. To enable them greater participation in the political process, the Mayor proposes changing state law to enable independent voters to gather and sign petitions for candidates that are members of a political party.
(YWN Desk – NYC)