FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES NEW STRATEGIES TO MAKE VOTING EASIER IN NEW YORK IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, December 19, 2010
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“In recent months, my office has conducted and released two reports on the election process in New York State – and they both reached the same conclusion: We badly need reform. Consider the fact that during last month’s election, only one-third of New York State voters went to the polls. And if you look at the last three election cycles, our voter participation was among the very worst in the nation.
“A big part of the problem is our state’s antiquated election laws. We conducted a nationwide review of voting in terms of convenience and accessibility. And guess what? New York State ranks dead last. Our voting laws are the most restrictive and the most outdated in the entire United States.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. For instance, the State Legislature could create an early voting period – as 35 other states have already done – during which voters would be able to cast their ballots at pre-designated sites like fire stations, libraries, and even grocery stores. This would give voters more choices about where and when to vote.
“Albany could encourage even greater participation by improving the registration process. Move the deadline for registration closer to Election Day. Shorten the period it takes for a voter to change party affiliation. And why not let voters fill out their ballots at home and then bring them in to be scanned during early voting or on Election Day?
“While we’re at it, let’s make the ballots easier to read. How about putting the instructions in plain English – instead of bureaucratic jargon that reads like it was written by a computer program? And how about using big, legible fonts – instead of the usual small type that can be so hard on the eyes? It’s simply common sense.
“Of course, making it easier to vote is one challenge; making that vote more meaningful is just as important. Here in New York, the legislature holds the power to draw its own districts – which essentially means that instead of voters choosing legislators, we have a situation where legislators choose voters. That’s why they win re-election 98 percent of the time, regardless of which party they belong to.
“Nonpartisan redistricting – which former Mayor Ed Koch has been leading the charge for – would instantly inject more competition into our elections, especially our general elections. It would give independents – who are the fastest-growing group of voters in New York, but who are also banned from voting in our primaries – a greater voice. And that, in turn, would force candidates to move away from the ideological extremes of their party and start appealing to the center – which would help foster a badly-needed spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration in Albany.
“Last month’s election left little doubt that we need major reform – both in the way elections are run and administered by the Board of Elections, and in the laws that are protecting incumbents and keeping voters away from the polls. Passing reform in Albany won’t be easy, but the health of our democracy depends on it.
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening.”
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
Listen to the radio address