Hawley urges voters to reject 3 ballot proposals
In 2014, voters made their opposition to gerrymandering clear when they voted to authorize the Independent Redistricting Commission to work in a bipartisan fashion to draw maps for our state’s elections, so they were fair and a better reflection of real communities.
This year, however, ballot proposals 1, 3, and 4 jeopardize the hard-fought wins New Yorkers have achieved in regard to redistricting and election integrity, and could help the Majority retain one-party rule for years to come using partisan maps.
Ballot proposal 1 is complex, perhaps by design, and removes a requirement that maps approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission receive an approval vote from a member appointed by each leader of the Legislature, both in the Majority and the Minority. This requirement was implemented intentionally to ensure each party would have meaningful input in the drafting of electoral maps in New York. If proposal 1 passes, there will be nothing stopping the Majority from passing maps through the commission that are designed to protect their own power, and unfairly disenfranchises their political adversaries.
Proposal 1 also removes a requirement that in the event the commission does not vote in favor of a map, that any map then approved by the Legislature be accepted by a two-third majority vote, as that threshold would be lowered to just 60%. This will make it even easier for the Majority to push through self-serving maps in the event they feel the commission’s maps, drafted and voted upon by their appointees, do not do enough to help them electorally. This is another step this proposal takes to weaken the commission and eradicate meaningful bipartisanship from the redistricting process, all to the benefit of the ruling legislative party.
While proponents of ballot proposals 3 and 4 argue they will bolster our democracy, I believe these measures open the door for the abuse of our electoral process and could reduce the faith people have in the integrity of our elections. We’ve seen how mail-in voting can throw elections into disarray last year, when thousands of votes were left uncounted during New York City’s primary elections and when the congressional election held in the 22nd District was left to be resolved in the courts months after voting day.
When combined with same-day voter registration, our local boards of election will be overwhelmed with documents to process and verify, and could have a lesser ability to properly scrutinize them for fraud and inaccuracy. Newly-registered voters will also be allowed to vote on machines rather than through affidavit, which would make it near impossible to disqualify the votes of those found to be ineligible to.
While some of these proposals may sound well-intentioned, I am greatly concerned about the effect they would have on our electoral process and our ability to maintain its integrity. Following a year in which many people have come to question their trust in our basic institutions, we should not be seeking to advance measures that open the door to gerrymandering and foul play.
Do your part to defend our elections by flipping over your ballots this November and voting no on ballot proposals 1, 3, and 4.
Assemblyman Steve Hawley
(Assemblyman Hawley represents the 139th District, which consists of Genesee, most of Orleans and parts of Monroe County.)