EDITORIAL: Vote yes on state ballot proposals 4 and 5

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

On Nov. 2, voters will go to the polls to vote on five state ballot propositions.

In Sunday’s paper, The Gazette Editorial Board offered recommendations for Proposals One through Three. Read them here.

Here are our recommendations for the final two proposals, one related to voting rights and another to litigation limits that could help relieve the caseload in some upstate courts.

Ballot Proposal Four: Removing Cause for Absentee Ballot Voting

Gazette Recommendation: Vote Yes.

This is a major voting initiative designed to make it easier for people vote by removing the limited number of excuses needed to vote by absentee ballot. Removing the limitations on voting by absentee would allow more people to vote through the convenience of mail-in ballots. Under current law, voters are only allowed to vote by absentee ballot if they expect to be absent from the county of their residence on Election Day or are unable to appear at their polling place because of illness or physical disability. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo greatly expanded access to absentee balloting by issuing an executive order allowing voters to offer the fear of contracting or spreading coronavirus as a legitimate reason for requesting a paper ballot. That order is in effect for this election season. Passage of this change to the state constitution would permanently remove any impediments to requesting an absentee ballot. Voting by mail proved to be extremely popular last year, particularly with seniors and others who can’t or are unwilling to go to the polls in person. Mail-in balloting is already used widespread in a number of states and has proven to be secure and free of fraud and malfeasance. It’s in the best interests of all New Yorkers to vote yes on this proposal.

Ballot Proposal Five: Increasing the Jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court

Gazette Recommendation: Vote Yes.

This is a technical proposal related to New York City’s Civil Court that has the potential to relieve the case burden on some upstate courts. It would allow the city’s Civil Court to hear and decide claims related to such matters as landlord-tenant disputes, claims for damages and small claims up to $50,000. The current jurisdictional limit is $25,000. Bill sponsors say the proposal is needed to help address backlogs and delays in the state judicial system, relieving caseload burdens on other courts that have been handling these cases, and to adequately adjust for inflation. Voters rejected a similar ballot proposal in 1995 – 26 years ago. This proposal gained unanimous bipartisan support in two separate state Legislatures for inclusion on the ballot, a rarity in this politically divisive atmosphere. The change is needed and long overdue. Voters should support it.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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