New York, We Suck

We’ve seen a lot of attention and schadenfreude directed at the fact that two of Trump’s kids won’t even be able to vote for him in the Republican primary. And it’s not like they missed a deadline a week ago. It was months ago. But here’s the thing. Our voting system here in New York sucks.

I can’t say my experience has ever been bad. My voting station is literally right across the street from my apartment. I’ve never waited in a terribly long line (I have the luxury of more or less choosing when I want to go during the day.)

But early voting? Nope.

Same day registration? Nope.

A voting machine from this century? Nope. (Though I’m not sure newer is necessarily better in this case.)

Basically the entire movement to make voting easier and especially make it easier for people who might have issues with scheduling or have a hard time getting off from work … well, that’s just passed us by. And the answer is pretty obvious. No one has any particular incentive to get more people to turn out because New York isn’t a presidential swing state. If we were Pennsylvania or Florida or Virginia or North Carolina it would be totally different. But we’re not.

You could even go further. No one even cares about suppressing our vote! Partly because there’s not many pro-voting reforms to roll back. But mainly because nobody cares. Because again, we basically don’t matter.

At a certain level this is just the nature of our current political moment. New York is deeply embedded in the national blue wall. The next time New York goes Republican in a presidential election you’ll know that either it’s a fundamentally different political era or the Democratic candidate got totally crushed. We vote Democrat for President and the last seriously contested senate election was Clinton’s run in 2000. So some of this just is what it is. Some good government types would say we need to get people wound up about civic participation and blah blah blah. But to a significant degree this is just rational action based on the relative state consensus in favor of Democrats in national politics.

But making it easier for everyone to vote, taking advantage of new technologies and approaches, should be a real priority everywhere. Not just in the states where presidential election get decided. If people are less motivated to vote because a lot of races aren’t closely contested, fine. But it should be as easy as possible.

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