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Miner pushing for change in voting laws

Ellen Abbott
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner held a news conference on Thursday to urge the state legislature to change voting laws.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is urging the state to make changes in voting laws so it will be easier for people to go to the polls.  The mayor made her plea surrounded by several local lawmakers and candidates for office and says even she sometimes forgets its Election Day.

"Whether it’s a primary or general election on that Tuesday, I have to remind myself to vote.  I am more in this system than arguably anybody here.  And yet it is difficult.”

Add to that work schedules and a busy family life and Miner says you can see why many New Yorkers don’t participate in the process.  She is suggesting the state adopt a trio of measures that make it easier to cast a ballot.  

A 20-day early voting period, “no excuse” absentee balloting, and universal voter registration -- what Miner calls the most important of the three.

“This allows for every citizen to be automatically registered to vote at the age of 18 unless they choose to opt out,” Minor says. “The law would remove another hurdle that disproportionately affects the young and underprivileged.  This proposal was recently implemented in Oregon which added hundreds of thousands of new voters to its rolls.”

Miner believes more voters would mean a more responsive government and better democracy. 

“When we make it easy to vote we have more participation we will have a better government and all people’s rights will be represented,” Miner says.  

Only about 29 percent of registered voters in New York went to the polls in last November’s midterm elections.   She has sent a letter to state leadership and local state lawmakers asking that Albany consider these changes and says it’s their job to listen.

"We’re saying to Albany, ‘we’re telling you it’s important therefore you make it important.’”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.