Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goodbye Laura Seago, ReformNY will Miss You!

Here at the Brennan Center, we're in mourning over the fact that today is Laura Seago's last with us. She's on her way to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, to pursue a joint PhD in Public Policy and Political Science (no surprise to us that pursuit of a single degree would not be enough for Laura).

Over the past two years, Laura has been the driving force behind this blog, authoring countless posts on all things related to New York and reform, from ethics in government, to campaign finance reform, from voting rights to redistricting and the budget.

In that time, she has also become expert in New York reform issues, co-authoring a report on the State Legislature, as well as a ground breaking law review article on Albany's failure to provide New Yorkers with legislative due process, and testifying at legislative hearings, among many other accomplishments.

Most importantly, as she learned more about New York, Laura became a true believer in the cause of reform, and her enthusiasm and interest inspired all of us to work harder.

No doubt, the loss for the Brennan Center and New York State is the University of Michigan's gain. We are confident that Laura will go on to do many great things. And we are equally confident that her replacement on the blog, John Patrick Travis -- who you'll be hearing more from in the coming days -- will bring his own enthusiasm, intelligence and creativity to stengthen our blog.

For today, however, we'll continue to feel a little sad that Laura will soon be gone. Thanks Laura for all that you have done for us in the last 24 months, and knock 'em dead in Michigan!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

More Voices for a Better Overvote Procedure in New York

In the past week, editorial boards, public officials, and computer scientists have joined the Brennan Center in calling on the New York City and State Boards of Elections to refrain from using an unnecessarily confusing procedure for the handling of overvoted ballots that is likely to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters.

A panel of leading computer scientists wrote to the Boards of Elections yesterday to emphasize that “[t]he most obvious solution to this problem is to set the voting machines to reject overvoted ballots… Because no software would be modified, testing of the change can be expected to be simple, straightforward and efficient, and to take no more than a day.” City Councilmember Margaret Chin also wrote to the State Board yesterday, asking for an explanation as to why they have “refused to implement this simple fix.”

Writing in another letter to the Boards of Elections today, chief election officials in jurisdictions across the country endorsed the automatic rejection of overvoted ballots, noting that this “better administrative practice…should not lead to long lines or confusion at polling places. To the contrary, by automatically rejecting overvotes, voters are immediately taken out of the voting line, provided with a new ballot, and given the opportunity to ensure that their intended choices are accurately recorded.”

In a July 5th editorial, the New York Times called New York's current procedure “needlessly complicated.” This week, the Daily News demanded that this “dangerous glitch…must be fixed now,” and the Journal News concurred, saying that “it would be unacceptable to have even one vote go unaccounted.”

To read what others are saying about New York’s overvote procedure and to join the chorus of voices calling on the City and State Boards of Elections to implement an easy fix to the problem, click here.

UPDATE: State Senator Liz Krueger has also joined in calling on the State Board of Elections to change its procedure for handling overvotes. Click here to view her letter to the Board.