Lawmakers pledge voting reform in the new year

Dec 21, 2018

Proponents of election reform in central New York are urging lawmakers to take action on the issue when they go back to Albany in January.  

With Democrats in control of the State Senate for the first time in several years, there’s optimism that a fair elections package can make it through the legislature. The proposal would create small donor public financing, limit the influence of big money, and make it easier to vote, by way of automatic voter registration and early voting, among other things.

Money in politics doesn’t just influence statewide politicians, but also local lawmakers according to Syracuse Common Councilor Khalid Bey.

"There were times when, and I'm certainly not shy to mention, I think some councilors might have been swayed by the dime, or by campaign contributions of certain people in the city," said Bey. "And it affected how votes went down over the years. And so to level the playing field for the everyday voter, to give consideration of public financing of campaigns I think is a smart way to go.”

State Senator-Elect Rachel May said after discussions with the new Democratic-led state Senate, she believes there will be action soon.

"Everyone supports early voting, and that’s going to happen.  I’m sure,” said May.

But she said there are some other voting issues that could take longer

"Some of the other ones that are constitutional amendments or changes, like same-day registration, that’s going to take a lot longer to put into place," she said.

Campaign finance reform is another top issue that in the past years has been blocked by the Republican-led state Senate.