PRESS RELEASE: Empire State Indivisible Hosts Panel on Voting Reform with Ari Berman, Other Experts

February 15, 2018 — For Immediate Release

NEW YORK, NY — Although Governor Cuomo announced a 30-day budget amendment on February 12 to allow for early voting in New York, he needs to keep those funds in the budget and push the Senate to pass early voting into law. Many more voting reforms are necessary in order to rectify New York’s abysmal standing nationally, and tonight’s panel addressed other urgent opportunities for the state.

In the second of six panel discussions as part of the monthly series What’s Happening in Albany, Empire State Indivisible hosted a panel tonight featuring Ari Berman (Mother Jones), Susan Lerner (Common Cause), Naila Awan, (Demos), Jarret Berg (New York Democratic Lawyers Council), and State Senator Brian Benjamin (30th Senate District). The panel series highlights important legislation that is stalled in the New York state legislature due to the Republican-led State Senate.

“More people are seeing the ridiculousness of our laws,” said Berman, speaking of the lack of progressive policies in New York such as early voting, same-day registration and automatic voter registration. Comparing New York with Oregon, for example, Berman notes that Oregon is “using technology to get more people involved in the political process…and they’re treating the vote as a right, not a privilege. They’re saying that democracy is better off when more people participate. We have a long way to go in New York.”

Awan spoke about how shocked she was to find out about how outdated New York’s laws were after moving from the Midwest. “We need to open up opportunities for people to vote by passing reforms like no-excuse absentee voting,” she said.

Berg pointed out that legislators in Albany often mention that they have limited bandwith to address multiple reforms, but this shouldn’t be an excuse. “When it comes to voter access, there are reforms that we need on the registration side, and also on balloting and voting access itself. We need a comprehensive overhaul of both.”

Future panels in the series will address the DREAM Act, the NY Health Act, the NY Climate and Community Protection Act, and GENDA.

For more information: Heather Stewart, Empire State Indivisible, 917–623–0940,

Empire State Indivisible uses the tactics of the Indivisible Guide to defend New York against the Trump administration, and those in our state government that enable its harmful policies. Our steadfast nature, together with our enterprising New York spirit, make our grassroots group one-of-a-kind.