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In response to Sen. Dave Valesky's critique of my letter, where he states that he in fact co-sponsored AB 2950 for early voting in New York, he is leaving out a key part of the lesson of how a bill becomes a law. He may have co-sponsored the bill, but his actions that give Republicans control over the Rules Committee and the Senate prevented the bill from passing.

While he runs for office as a "Democrat," he caucuses with the Independent Democratic Conference and thus, even though there are 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans in the New York State Senate, the Republicans controlled the Senate in 2017 and despite our best efforts did not bring AB 2950 early voting to a vote.

He is correct — in trying to provide a shorthand explanation, I glossed over the fact that there was not an actual vote on AB 2950. However, his actions in enabling Republicans to control the Senate ensured that this bill did not come to a vote. In exchange for his actions, he also is given a key leadership posts on the Rules Committee and in the Senate — he has been under fire for the extra salary he receives from the Republican leadership for this post. He could have used his leadership position to push the committee to take votes on bills such as AB 2950. Thus, it was an accurate summary to say he was a key vote on the committee where the bill died after passing handily through the Assembly.

He also did not mention that AB 2950 was sponsored by Senator Stewart-Cousins, who is the minority leader. Had he and the Independent Democratic Conference and Senator Simcha Felder caucused with the Democrats — as they were all elected as Democrats — Senator Stewart-Cousins would have been the head of the Senate and the bill would clearly have been brought to a vote — and most likely New York would have become the 38th state to implement early voting.

A growing group of constituents, including myself, under the banner of True Blue NY, and national Democratic leadership, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Keith Ellison, and the entire New York Democratic delegation to the House of Representatives are calling upon Senator Valesky to rejoin the Democratic caucus, as we elected him to do.

I hope he will hear our voices, so we can pass such key legislation as early voting in 2018.

Jonah Minkoff-Zern


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