101st Assembly District
Kevin Cahill

Room 557 LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-4436
Governor Clinton Building, One Albany Ave., Suite G-4
Kingston, NY 12401 • (845) 338-9610

For Immediate Release
Date: June 16, 2003
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assembly Passes Measures to Ensure Public Trust in Voting Process

Legislation would implement latest technology to increase accessibility and accuracy at the polls

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston) announced the Assembly passed legislation he supported, including several bills he sponsored, that would ensure faith and fairness in the election process. The package would streamline administration of elections, create a uniform computerized voter registration list, move the state towards standardized, electronic voting machines and improve accessibility to the voting process for people with disabilities.

"After the 2000 Presidential election debacle in Florida, the flaws in the election process came through loud and clear. Elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, but they are meaningless without public trust," Assemblymember Cahill said. "This package will ensure voters can cast their ballots easily, eliminate any doubt that their vote was recorded accurately and protect against voter fraud."

"The Assembly legislation helps move elections in New York from the 'horse and buggy' age into the 21st Century while strengthening some of the weaknesses in the federal law. We hope that the Governor and the Senate follow suit," said Neal Rosenstein of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Mr. Cahill said that improving the election process for all individuals, but more specifically people with disabilities, was a priority that was highlighted on the Assembly Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day (LDAD) that was held on June 11, 2003. Assemblymember Cahill co-sponsored the annual event as Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities.

"It has been our goal to ensure that the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act meet our higher, more reasonable standards," Mr. Cahill said. "Voting is the cornerstone of government participation, and every person is entitled to participate to the fullest extent. We believe that people with disabilities should have equal access to polling places, and any new voting machines purchased in the future should be suitable to that purpose."

Included in the legislative package passed on LDAD is Assemblymember Cahill's bill (A.5473-A), which would require all polling places to be accessible to voters with physical disabilities. "Voting is a fundamental right that must be guaranteed," the Assemblymember noted. "This bill is yet another example of the Assembly's leadership in ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to the democratic process, and are treated with fairness and equity."

Another piece of legislation, which Assemblymember Cahill co-sponsored, encourages counties to replace aging lever voting machines and bans punch ballots (A.8847). "Adopting a single type of electronic voting machine will better meet the needs of all citizens - including people with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency," he said. "These machines can also be audited easily in order to assure voter confidence in the integrity of the elections process."

The Assembly's measure to consolidate election operations at the county level, which Assemblyman Cahill co-sponsored, would help ensure elections are run consistently and polling places are adequately staffed with well-trained workers (A.8833).

The Assemblymember noted another measure to create a computerized, centralized interactive statewide voter registration list with proper privacy protections would help ease confusion at the polls (A.8842). "A statewide list would help local election officials verify the eligibility of voters and direct them to the correct polling place," he said. "The list would also ensure that voters get in and out of the polls quickly, and help crack down on voter fraud."

Other bills in the Assembly's election package would:

  • Provide instructions for paper ballots to avoid over-votes and ensure voters are aware of their right to a replacement ballot (A.8831);
  • Require a posting at each poll site of information relating to voting, the ballot and voter rights (A.8840);
  • Permit military ballot applications to be valid through the next two federal elections after their submission (A.8832);
  • Add additional ballot instructions to paper ballots and absentee voter ballots instructing voters not to over-vote or try to correct their mistakes with erasures or strikethroughs and to instead obtain a clean replacement ballot (A.9061).

The Senate has companion legislation for the Assembly's poll site information (S.5541), military ballot (S.5539) and replacement ballot (S.5617) bills. "These three bills represent solid, bipartisan progress toward implementing the federal Help America Vote Act in New York," Mr. Cahill said. "But much work remains, and I urge the Senate to get behind the other bills in our package."

The package ensures compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) - a federal law to help elections across the nation run smoothly and ensure everyone eligible to vote can register easily and cast their votes with certainty. "HAVA offers New York State the opportunity to increase voter participation and modernize the voting process," Assemblymember Cahill said. "The 21st Century voting technology that our voters deserve - and in many cases require - is long overdue. We must pass this legislation in order to ensure the integrity of our elections."