Among several reform measures to generate citizen participation in elections is Gov. Andrew Cuomo's commitment of nearly $7 million in state funding to institute early voting across the Empire State.
As we remember, this was one of three proposals that the governor had outlined in his state of the state address that also included expanding automatic voter registration through the various state agencies and allowing same-day voter registration. The 30-day budget amendment which the governor has recently unveiled will provide funding for the new system to the 62 counties across New York.
Cuomo explained earlier that the proposals are designed to increase access for New Yorkers who often fail to show up on Election Day. In 2014, only 29 percent of the eligible population in this state voted, ranking New York as the 41st in the nation for turnout. That's a shameful statistic.
The governor does raise a valid point when he says, "At this time of citizen alienation, the best thing we can do is let people know that their voice is heard, that they matter and that they can and should vote." And, he says, we should make voting easier, not harder, with same-day registration, no-fault absentee ballots and early voting.
None of the proposals have yet to be taken up by the Legislature. And they're expected at this point to sail through the process with few obstacles since Democrats have the majority.
For the record, New York is one of 13 states that does not offer early voting. Under the Cuomo plan, each county would be required to open one polling site for every 50,000 residents for 12 days before an election. Each of those polling sites would be open eight hours on weekdays and five hours on the weekends. An estimated 65 percent of registered voters support the plan, according to the latest Siena College poll.
We agree with Jennifer Wilson, the dynamic program and policy director of the League of Women Voters in New York state. As she observes, the legislation will not become effective until the 2019 elections, but the $7 million provides crucial assistance to county boards of election as they begin to plan for future elections and upgrade their technology.
— The Niagara Gazette
If violence prevention is priority No. 1 when it comes to school shootings, then priority No. 2 is making sure that we know how to prevent that violence, that the measures we are taking will make a difference. Once again this week, efforts to make that effort meaningful and effective collapsed in Albany courtesy of the Republicans who control the state Senate.
While there is nothing wrong with the package of bills the Senate Republican majority muscled through, measures designed primarily to help ensure that schools have more rigorous security measures, it did nothing to help prevent violence.
If we were talking about the recent flu outbreak, the Republicans would be the ones arguing that we need to stock the nurse's office with Tamiflu but avoiding even the hint that students and faculty get flu shots because, after all, there is no guarantee that such preventive measures are 100-percent effective.
In the case of deadly gun violence, we are not as well-informed, courtesy of a Congressional ban on gathering such evidence. So you would think that elected officials would be eager to find out more, to see what is known about the causes of gun violence and the most effective ways to prevent it.
Other countries that do not have an epidemic of gun violence, including Australia which had a strong gun-owning-and-using culture before a massacre inspired dramatic changes in the laws, have taken steps to make sure that these deadly weapons have a harder time getting into the hands of those who will use them to kill other humans. In Albany this week, that effort took the form of a proposal for more lengthy and thorough background checks before someone can purchase a weapon.
With any other epidemic, prevention is universally understood to be preferable to a cure. Even allowing for the lack of certainty about efforts on both sides of that argument, rarely do you see anyone maintain that you should focus solely on one and completely ignore the other.
— The Times-Herald Record, Middleton
In the catalog of horrors afflicting the world's most hellish places, South Sudan can check about every bloodied box. More than four years of civil warfare has left tens of thousands dead, two million displaced, half the population at threat of starvation without aid and a trail of atrocities — genocide, child warriors, rape, castration, burned villages. And now, warns the United Nations, famine stalks the tortured land.
A recent report by the United Nations and the South Sudan government said 150,000 people could slip into famine this year. A formal famine declaration means people have already started to starve to death. But even with food aid, humanitarian workers warn, much of South Sudan could face severe hunger by May. And the U.N. response plan has received less than 4 percent of its 2018 funding.
A year ago, South Sudan declared famine in two regions, but international responses checked it. Even if that were repeated this year, famine will be a threat in the future unless the land's predatory soldiers are driven out. This is caused by the struggle for power and loot, not by nature.
Even more salient is that the United States bears a special responsibility. During the long civil war between northern and southern Sudan, which Christian groups in the United States came to perceive as a struggle of Christians in the south against Muslim oppression from the north, Washington brokered an agreement that led to independence for South Sudan in 2011 — along with billions in American aid.
It all unraveled into ethnic warfare less than two years later, when President Salva Kiir, a member of the majority Dinka group, turned on his former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer. Other tribes joined in, setting off a senseless war that has defied numerous agreements and cease-fires.
An arms embargo is a must, and the United States must continue to press for one in the Security Council. Washington should also continue to lead the way in providing emergency assistance.
— The New York Times