Bichotte, Richardson welcome election reform measures

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Brooklyn’s Caribbean American legislators Rodneyse Bichotte and Diana Richardson on Tuesday welcome passage of election reform measures in New York State Legislature.

The Legislature passed several pieces of legislation which seek to initiate access to the right of suffrage for a wider range of people and limit the influence of wealthy special interests on elections.

“Voting is one of the most important facet of participatory democracy,” Assemblymember Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.

“It is time to modernize the electoral process, and allow it to be flexible and inclusive of all Americans,” she added. “The sad truth is that, for many, voting can feel like an inconvenience. New Yorkers are busy people. Often, we are asked to balance many obligations at once.

“Election Day often requires voters to make themselves available on a specific day at a certain time,” she added. “Now, I am excited that both the Senate and Assembly have decided to make sure that the people of New York who can vote have a more flexible process to exercise their right vote.”

Bichotte’s colleague, Assemblymember Diana C. Richardson (WFP, D-Brooklyn), noted that “the first days of legislative session are proving to be very fruitful for New Yorkers across the state.

“As a member of the New York State Assembly, I am ecstatic that we have hit the ground running in passing major voting reforms,” said the daughter of Aruban and St. Martin immigrants, who represents the 43rd Assembly District. “This groundbreaking legislative bill package seeks to increase voter access, electoral participation, civic engagement and community engagement.

“This legislative bill package echoes the national legislative reforms surrounding voter access,” Richardson added. “It is imperative that we use all avenues to continue to maintain this massive increase of community participation.

“The passing of these bills shows the commitment of the New York State Legislature is aiding in the elimination of voter suppression and the increase of voter engagement,” Richardson continued.

On Monday, the New York State Legislature voted for A00780, a bill that will allow for early voting; A00775 that will require the Board of Elections to automatically transfer a voter’s registration to his/her new location after a change of address anywhere within New York State; and A00778 that seeks to amend the New York State Constitution to increase access to absentee ballot voting.

The Legislature also passed A00777 that amends the New York State Constitution to remove the 10-day advance voter registration requirement; A00774 that seeks to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote; and A00779 that will ensure that military personnel stationed abroad have the opportunity to vote by sending absentee ballots in enough time before an election.

“For a democratic government to work, it should be for the people and by the people,” Bichotte said. “Before yesterday, New York State has provided unfair advantages for wealthy interests. “Thankfully, this package includes a bill that can finally level the playing field when it comes to making contributions to candidates in an election.

“It is my pleasure to have been a part of the passing of these historic electoral initiatives to incite greater access to not only to the right to vote but to the democratic ideals on which America stands for,” she added.

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