The state Legislature will consider a measure to change the date of this year's September primary. It's a good move to make this year, but it's also a reminder of the need for more extensive election reforms in New York.
A bill passed by the state Assembly this week would move the primary to Thursday, Sept. 13. The vote is currently scheduled for Sept. 11, which is not only a solemn day of remembrance on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, but it also falls this year during Rosh Hashanah, an important Jewish holiday when people should have the opportunity to spend time with their family.
While this simple step makes sense this year, we wish lawmakers would do a bit more heavy lifting with regard to permanent changes in other areas. In addition to working toward having a single day for federal, state and presidential primaries (in 2016 they happened on three different dates), there are simple steps the Legislature can take to help New Yorkers more easily participate in the democratic process:
• Enact same-day voter registration;
• Allow party enrollment changes much closer to Primary Day;
• Adopt a system of early voting;
• Expand primary voting hours so polls are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. statewide;
• Repeal restrictions on absentee voting.
None of these changes would come with enormous costs for local elections boards, but they would all make it easier for more people to cast their vote.
So along with changing the date for this year's state primary, the Legislature should work to come up with a longer list of reforms that the Assembly and Senate can both find agreeable this year.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.