‘A Black Eye For Democracy’: New Yorkers Reject Ballot Measures Aimed At Making Voting Easier – Gothamist
Voting at the Bronx County Courthouse on November 2nd, 2021.
Ballot questions that asked New Yorkers to expand voting access and streamline the redistricting process are on track to fail, with at least one government reform group calling it a "black eye for Democracy."
Results from the state Board of Elections show nearly 48.52 % of voters said no to proposal number one, with 38.43 % voting yes, and 13.01 % leaving the question blank, though not all precincts have reported in. The proposed amendments would have updated the timeline for redistricting, the process that draws new legislative lines following the census count. Other amendments under that proposal would have eliminated a rule that a supermajority was needed for legislators to approve the maps if both the Assembly and Senate were controlled by one party. Redistricting is currently in the hands of the Independent Redistricting Commission (not the State Legislature), which was formed in 2014 to carve out maps without having them gerrymandered.
Read More: The Five Ballot Proposals, Explained
Results from the state BOE also show 51% of voters said no to Ballot Proposal #3, which would have removed a requirement that New Yorkers must register to vote 10 days before an election. The removal of the amendment would have cleared the State Legislature to potentially pass a measure that would have allowed same-day voting registration. There were 37.67 % yes votes, though nearly 11% of voters left the measure blank.
Ballot Proposal number 4, which would have essentially instituted no-excuse absentee voting, also failed. Results show 50.09 % of voters voted down the measure, with 38.60 % voting yes, and 11.25% leaving the question blank.
The changes deal a blow to the Democratic Party, which sought to enshrine these amendments into the state constitution, making them difficult to be amended in the future.
"The failure of props 1, 3, and 4 is a black eye for democracy. Donald Trump successfully infected the Republican party by propagating the Big Lie, and his onslaught of attacks have destabilized the country," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause, which had pushed to have the proposal pass. "These results are a cautionary tale showing that even in deep blue New York, we can't take pro-democracy outcomes for granted. Anti-democracy forces are drowning out common-sense reforms with fear-mongering scare tactics, and voters are listening."
There were some bright spots for the rest of the ballot questions, with voters approving proposal number two, which guarantees New Yorkers a healthy environment across the state. State tallies show that 60.82% voted yes, 27.44 % no, 11.70% left it blank.
Peter Iwanowicz, executive director at Environmental Advocates NY, which pushed for the proposal, said in a statement that New Yorkers spoke clearly "on making clean air and clean water a legal right."
"In these otherwise polarizing times, a healthy environment, breathing clear air, and drinking clean water are values that bring people together,” Iwanowicz said in his statement.
Ballot Proposal number 5 also passed, allowing the New York City Civil Court System to hear small claims cases of up to $50,000, double the dollar amount it currently can hear. Given how this amendment only impacts New York City, it was a ballot proposal many voters left blank.
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