Reinhold Niebuhr once wisely said that “(Our) capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but (our) inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
Democracy is the capacity of the people to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. In political terms it is the right to govern themselves, to elect their representatives, and to advocate with them for the services government can provide.
On January 24, Governor Cuomo signed significant voting and election reforms into law: early voting, consolidated primary dates, pre-registration of teenagers; state-wide voter registration and legislation on Limited liability corporations (LLCs).
However, there is much more to be done. We support the following legislative initiatives:
Two proposed constitutional amendments passed in January must be passed again in two years by the next elected Legislature and then approved by state-wide referendum:
- Allow for voter registration on the same day as an election
- Allow for no-excuse absentee ballots
Reforms that are still needed include:
- Funding for early voting, so that counties can pay for start-up costs and training and education.
- Electronic poll books (S508 / A2070), easier to update and maintain than the current paper books used in New York State.
- The Voter Friendly Ballot Act (S2300 / A26782) to provide more readable, well-designed ballots.
- Automatic restoration of the right to vote for all New Yorkers who are on parole (S1931).
- Automatic voter registration, to be implemented in DMV and other state agencies.
- A deadline for changing party affiliation that is closer to the primary date.
- A small donor matching system for campaign financing.
The members of Interfaith Impact believe that civic involvement for the benefit of all is a religious obligation. We support these bills because democracy, for us, is a religious principle.