Voting has certainly changed a lot in New York over the past year. But Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz says it hasn’t changed enough.
With votes still being counted from the June 23 primary — where the state saw a record number of absentee ballots cast because of the coronavirus pandemic — Dinowitz says state lawmakers need to act now to make sure these problems are fixed in time for the Nov. 3 general election.
Dinowitz is calling for a series of changes to the process, which he outlined in a recent newsletter to constituents. Those changes include allowing all registered voters to once again vote by absentee ballot if they fear contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
Beyond that, he’s calling for absentee ballot tracking so voters can see how their particular ballot is making its way through the system (and is ultimately counted). He also wants to require all elections boards to include postage-paid return envelopes for absentee ballots and applications.
He also wants to restore voting rights to parolees, as well as authorize full-time college and university students to serve as pollworkers in the location where their school is located.
“There are many more reforms needed, and we are midway through securing some significant changes,” Dinowitz said in his newsletter. That includes a state constitutional amendment that would allow “no excuse” absentee voting for all elections.
“We have to continue working hard to improve our elections,” Dinowitz added, “because they are the hallmark of our democracy.”
U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel has joined some of his congressional colleagues in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and minority leader Kevin McCarthy urging them to push for more funding for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, which supports health care programs for vulnerable communities in the state.
“The ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which has engulfed my district, has reduced access to critical health care programs for women and children,” Engel said, in a release. “The reality is that this impacts vulnerable communities, especially communities of color, far more than others due to economic and social barriers.”
Engel signed the letter with Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks and Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick along with 77 other members of the House.
In the past two years, New York has received $38 million each year to block grant support for a wide range of programs, including home visiting services and school-based health centers.