Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Empire State

I discovered the following article on the webpage of the Oneonta Daily Star. The author of the article wasn’t listed.

“Among the myriad proposals Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pitching in his roadshow of State of the State addresses, we find the one he calls ‘Democracy Project’ particularly compelling.

“The governor wants to allow early voting and have automatic and same-day voter registration.  Well, it’s about time.

“Sadly, it is also about lethargy, sloth and a marked disinterest in democracy among far too many potential voters in this state.

“New York routinely ranks among the worst states in voter turnout, according to statistics from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.  It’s bad enough during a presidential election year, but in off-year plebiscites, it’s damned near criminal.

“In 2014, we ranked 46th in the nation in turnout of the voting age population.  Only 29.1 percent of those over 18 bothered to vote in that November’s election.  In New York City, only 20 percent cast a ballot.

“Ask your typical New York state non-voter if he or she staying away from the polls was a matter of ignorance or apathy, and you’re liable to hear this: ‘I don’t know, and I don’t care.’

“We suspect that part of the reason for the low turnout is that New York is a reliably blue - or Democratic Party - state.  If folks don’t think their vote is going to change the outcome, they are probably going to find an excuse to stay home on election day.  This, of course, ignores all of the other races going on down the ballot.

“Election day is a big part of the problem.  New York is one of only 11 states that does not allow early voting in the days before the official election day, and the governor is absolutely right to propose doing something to get us off that list.

“‘These proposals will modernize and open up our election system, making it easier for more voters to participate in the process and helping to make a more fair, more just and more representative New York for all,’ Cuomo said in a news release.

“Many of us are rightfully critical of states - all with Republican legislatures and governors - that have in recent years attempted to curtail early voting and instituted other policies that discourage voter turnout.  However, with New Yorkers able to vote on only one day - with the exception of absentee ballots - we should look in the mirror.

“We suppose the case could be made that only those who take enough of an active interest in our republic to get themselves to the voting place should be the ones who determine our leaders.  But it’s not a very strong case.

“Citizens can already register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but a lot of elderly people and many citizens who live in New York City don’t drive.  Although polling places are open until 9 p.m., it’s still difficult for those with jobs and kids and other challenges to get out and vote.

“Being able to register and vote on the same would be a big help.  Those who fret about voter fraud have little to worry about.  Other states have found that it is not a major or even minor problem.

“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman supports Cuomo’s proposals, and adds one of his own that makes a lot of sense.  He wants to consolidate New York’s three-primary schedule into one day.

“Other than our legislators being comfortable with a system in which they get re-elected at an alarming rate, we see no reason why they should not support Cuomo’s and Schneiderman’s proposals in the current session.”


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