A series of statewide hearings on voting rights and election reforms is kicking off this week in Brooklyn.
On July 28, the first of the series of hearings will be held at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and voters are being invited to share their recent voting experiences and ideas for improvements at the public hearing.
The hearings, announced last week by Sen. Zellnor Myrie who chairs the Senate Elections Committee, are aimed at reforming the administration of New York’s elections and protecting the rights of voters across the state.
The statewide hearings will be followed by a September hearing in Albany, which will give local and state Boards of Elections — along with other advocates and experts — the opportunity to answer Senators’ questions and respond to voter feedback collected during the initial hearings, Myrie said.
“While recent Election Law changes have improved the voting process and expanded access to the polls, we have continued to see impediments and errors that have disenfranchised voters in every corner of our state,” Myrie said.
He said the set of hearings demonstrated the Senate’s commitment to tackling existing problems and “identifying solutions that further improve administration of our elections and strengthen our democracy.”
Myrie stated that in 2020, New York City voters experienced historically high levels of absentee ballot disqualifications, lengthy waits for early voting during the general election and an absentee ballot printing error resulting in confusion and mistrust.
Recently, the New York City Board of Elections released inaccurate preliminary results for the June 2021 primary elections before issuing a correction, he said, while in June a judge granted an injunction against the Rensselaer County Board of Elections for failing to provide communities of color with adequate and equitable access to early voting poll sites.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the Senate Majority had been steadfast in its commitment to making voting easier for all eligible voters. She said that engaging the public in the current public hearings was crucial to examining the impact of recent election reforms and to finding solutions to further improve the election process.
“I look forward to continuing our efforts to make the voting process more efficient, convenient and transparent, and taking what we learn from these hearings into the next legislative session,” she said.
Voters are invited to provide testimony in person or in writing. Current hearing dates are:
- July 28, 2021 at Medgar Evers College in New York City (link to testify)
- August 4, 2021 at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse (link to testify)
- August 5, 2021 at the Monroe County Office Building in Rochester (link to testify)
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