EXPAND THE NEW YORK VOTES ACT!

New York has the worst elections laws in the country, and as a result, had the second lowest turnout in the presidential primary last year.

In February, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman introduced the New York Votes Act, a comprehensive set of bills to expand voting rights.

This proposal is an important step in the right direction, but it does not address the biggest impediment to voting: The fact that 3.3 million independent and unaffiliated voters are locked out of New York’s closed primary system.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were outraged that they couldn’t vote in the primary. The earliest change of party affiliation deadline in the country kept many independents, who were willing to join a party to vote in the primary, from participating as well.

No wonder independent voter rights advocate Francis Barry wrote in a recent op-ed: “New York is the worst state for independents, bar none.”

We simply can’t make real progress on election reform without addressing the greatest form of voter suppression in the state -- closed primaries. Independents voters are the second biggest voting bloc in New York, outnumbering Republicans by half a million; they are also the fastest-growing voting bloc. This system is no longer sustainable.

The only way to make New York’s elections truly democratic is to open the primaries. Therefore, we are calling on Attorney General Schneiderman, and his peers in the New York State Legislature, to expand the New York Votes Act to include open primaries. Make New York a true democracy and let all voters vote.