June 13th, 2012
Making sure that every vote is a legitimate one
Change can be a good thing- especially if that change improves our democracy. As Dutchess County Elections Commissioner I am committed to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote and that every legitimate vote is counted.
Our current antiquated voter registration system is the single biggest barrier which might jeopardize your right to vote. Spelling errors, mistyped addresses, lost forms, and duplicate names are unavoidable when up to 10,000 voter registrations each year are processed by hand. Voters are understandably frustrated when they arrive at their polling place only to find that they were mistakenly removed from the registration rolls or a poll worker cannot find their misspelled name in the poll book.
That’s why I support the Voter Empowerment Act of New York. This legislation would amend the election law to update, streamline and make more efficient the voter registration process in New York. It would computerize the entire registration process, reducing typographical and clerical errors that come with hand-written registration documents and making it easier for eligible voters to register.
The Voter Empowerment Act of New York would:
• Automatically register eligible consenting citizens at designated government agencies;
• Permit pre-registration of 16- and 17- year-olds;
• Automatically transfer registrations of New Yorkers who move within the state;
• Provide access to voter registration records and registration of eligible citizens online and;
• Allow people to register or change their party later in the election cycle.
Here at the county level we can take a big leap forward by implementing new electronic poll book technology. This system, which allows voters to sign in to vote on touch screens instead of a hard copy poll book, will be piloted in the Town of Poughkeepsie Town Hall during the Federal Primary on June 26th. An initial investment by the county would pay dividends with each election that passes by without the board having to pay thousands of dollars using the old print method.
Since I became Commissioner we’ve pursued each and every approach available to us to improve the process for voters. Striving to ensure that everyone who is constitutionally eligible to vote be allowed the opportunity is our duty to the people who have fought to defend this country. In this Presidential election year, while voting rights are under attack from Voter ID laws and controversial voter purging, it’s important to remind ourselves that the foundation of this nation is its democracy.
Reforming our laws to guard that franchise against new attacks is the sworn obligation of every office holder.
Dutchess County Board of Elections