By Michael J. Volpe
The SAM Party of New York has been advocating and fighting for, among other things, real reforms to elections in our state. In the state committee elections conducted on June 23, poll workers may have mistakenly permitted non-SAM voters to vote in some primary elections for seats on the SAM State Committee. These issues will be addressed in the coming days.
While this pandemic has presented unprecedented events and chaos for many, the recent problems highlight why real reform of our systems of electing officials is necessary. Our democracy must do better. We need to debate and address open primaries, ranked choice voting and other reforms and allow independent, democracy minded voices to be heard. The voices of individual voters cannot be silenced any longer.
More immediately, specific administrative reforms to improve our elections could be easily implemented. In New York State, each Board of Election has a Democrat and a Republican commissioner. They are appointed by political power brokers. The commissioners control the boards, and, in turn, the manner and way information is or is not shared with the public, the decisions regarding hiring of full-time staffers, the training of part-time poll workers, and, importantly, the administration of elections. This system needs to change. Problems with transparency at BOE’s, the enforcement of the election law, the abilities and knowledge of poll workers as to processes and procedures and the conduct of elections have been presenting problems for years.
Real change in NY can happen. Democrats and Republicans could make all BOE’s non-partisan; they could take away patronage jobs; provide funding for voter reforms such as poll worker training; easy access to early voting; and continued voting by mail.
Importantly, easy reform could include one form of ballot for the entire state instead of the current jumbled mess. To have real reform SAM NY recognizes that our state needs leadership and not partisanship. Election reform seems to be an easy place to start.
Michael J. Volpe is the SAM Party of New York Chair