Assembly Passes Plan to Modernize Elections

Measures will help allocate federal funding from the Help America Vote Act
February 23, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) helped pass a legislative package today that makes New York eligible to receive federal funding to modernize the election process through the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

"Florida’s dysfunctional voting system during the 2000 Presidential Election highlighted the need to overhaul the nation’s voting process. It’s quite obvious that our election system relies on antiquated procedures and equipment," Mr. Cahill said. "Modernizing and improving our electoral process will ensure voter confidence and encourage broader participation."

HAVA is designed to help states create a uniform, computerized voter registration list and assist states with establishing standardized, electronic voting machines. In order to receive federal funds, each state must design a plan, pass enabling legislation, and appropriate state funds. The process must also include citizen participation and public review.

The Assembly passed a package of legislation that ensures New York’s compliance with HAVA. The package would:

  • consolidate election operations at the county level, ensuring elections are run consistently and polling places are adequately staffed with well-trained workers (A.8833-B);
  • create a computerized, centralized, interactive statewide voter registration list with proper privacy protections that will ensure voters get in and out of the polls quickly, votes are recorded accurately and voter fraud is prevented (A.8842-A);
  • provide for an administrative complaint procedure administered by the state board of elections (A.8841-A); and
  • ban punch ballots and require the statewide adoption of a single type of electronic voting machine that will be accessible to all citizens, including persons with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency, and easily audited in order to assure voter confidence (A.8847-A).

"As Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, I am especially proud to have authored and advanced a measure that establishes basic guidelines to ensure the disabilities community have equal access to polling sites (A.5473-A). Voting is the essential core of a democratic society and the Assembly’s passage of this paramount piece of legislation will guarantee that every New York resident has the same opportunity to exercise this fundamental right," Assemblymember Cahill stated.

"It is my goal to adopt a system that works for all voters. We can help increase voter turnout and empower New Yorkers with a voting process that is reliable and user-friendly. Elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, but they are meaningless without public trust. The Assembly’s package will help ensure voter confidence in New York elections," Mr. Cahill concluded.