Special Elections Reform

I made the following statement on today's vote on Resolution 0003-2014 calling on Governor Cuomo to call special elections to fill all vacancies in the Assembly and State Senate:

"With nine vacancies in the State Assembly and two vacancies in the State Senate, City & State News counts one million seven hundred eighty six thousand one hundred sixty-six (1,786,166) New York State residents are left without State representation, and I commend this resolution to remedy this problem.

New York's special election process, however, is deeply flawed. According to a Citizen's Union report on the special election process “Circumventing Democracy: The Flawed System for Filling Vacancies for Elected Office in New York,” 1 in 4 legislators was elected in a special election, contests with “an abysmally low average voter turnout of 12 percent,” with an incumbency re-election rate of 96 percent over the last decade.

Citizens Union states in their report: “The continuation of a closed party nominating process in which party leaders essentially ordain the candidates whose names will appear on a special election ballot limits voter participation in our representative democracy.”

It seems that Governor Andrew Cuomo is refusing to call these special elections in order to avoid this undemocratic process.

I had hoped to vote in favor of this resolution with a friendly amendment to call on the Governor to change the special election law to require party primaries or non-partisan elections.

I vote no on this resolution as written, but encourage the Governor to amend the Special Election Law to require party primaries or non-partisan elections as was recommended by Citizen’s Union then call a special election to provide representation to one million seven hundred eighty six thousand one hundred sixty-six (1,786,166) New Yorkers."

Learn more by reading the full report: http://www.citizensunion.org/www/cu/site/hosting/Reports/CU_CircumventingDemocracyReport_June2011.pdf