New York needs to make voting easier

To the editor:

This year, New York will celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage. Yet, according to the US Census Bureau, only 36 percent of eligible female voters cast ballots in New York during the 2014 election. Why is turnout so low among women in New York?

Sarah Eames’s article, “League of Women Voters, legislators push for voting reforms” (April 26, 2017), describes the sad state of voting in New York compared to the rest of the country. We ranked 42nd in voter turnout in 2016. Ours is one of only 13 states that doesn’t allow early voting and New York has arguably the most restrictive party enrollment registration deadlines in the country.

We can blame much of our paltry voter turnout problem on New York’s outdated and unnecessarily difficult electoral system. Why can’t New York modernize voting and make the process more convenient?

Legislators in Albany and Governor Cuomo have endorsed reforms like allowing early voting several days before elections, including weekends, and automatic voter registration at government agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles. Yet the governor retracted his promise to pass voting reform in the state budget one week before negotiations ended. And bills that would make it easier to vote, especially for working parents, the elderly and disabled New Yorkers, are dying in committee in the State Senate right now, as in previous years.

Constituents like me, women who have to scramble to find child care and lose time at work to participate in our democracy, must demand that Governor Cuomo and lawmakers in Albany do their moral duty and reform New York’s voting system. They must vote into law early voting and automatic voter registration this year. No more excuses. After 100 years, we should have figured this out.