Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brennan Center Testifies in Support of a Better Ballot

The Brennan Center submitted testimony today before the New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations. The Committee held a hearing on a resolution calling on the New York State Legislature and the Governor to pass legislation to improve paper ballots in New York State. One of the bills supported by the City Council’s resolution is the Voter Friendly Ballot Act of 2011 – the product of collaboration between the Brennan Center, the Usability Professionals Association, AIGA, and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh.

Brennan Center City Council Testimony on Res. 671-A

Friday, September 16, 2011

Major Victory for Minor Parties!

Late last week we were happy to announce a big win for New York's minor parties and all of New York's voters, as we settled our lawsuit on behalf of three of New York's minor parties against the state Board of Elections. The lawsuit challenged a discriminatory vote-counting practice called "double voting."

Essentially, when a candidate ran for two different party lines for the same office, some voters were choosing to "double vote": that is, mark in the paper ballot with multiple votes for the same candidate on the different party lines. Under the old practice, New York's new voting machines accepted such ballots, counted these ballots as having a single vote for the candidate on the major party line (e.g. Democrat or Republican), and ignored the voter's attempt to vote on the minor party line as well. Now, voters will be notified of the problem and given opportunities to make sure their vote counts for the party of their choice.

Sam Roberts at the New York Times City Room reported:

Under a consent decree signed approved Thursday by Judge Jed S. Rakoff of United States District Court in Manhattan, the board agreed to reprogram voting machines before the 2012 general election to prevent people from voting more than once for the same candidate.
“They have to put a very bold message on the screen that says basically: ‘You voted incorrectly. Your candidate preference is clear, but your party preference is not,’ ” said Daniel Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party. “Then you get to press a button and get your ballot back so you can fix it. Our view is that voters who mean to vote for us will want it to count.”
The improvements that will come from this settlement will help improve elections for all New Yorkers.