03 May 2005

N.Y. disqualifies many ballots

Yancey Roy

(May 3, 2005) — ALBANY — A quarter of a million New Yorkers had to vote on paper ballots last fall, and more than half of those votes were disqualified by local election officials, a new report showed Monday.

The total of 257,775 "provisional" ballots cast in New York was second among the states to California's 668,408. Advocates say the number of paper ballots — used when, for example, someone isn't listed on voter rolls — shows that New York should let voters register on Election Day and not require registration 25 days in advance.

States have higher voter turnout if they allow Election Day registration, as is the case in Minnesota (78 percent in 2004 ), said the five groups issuing the report. New York's turnout, 57 percent, ranked near the bottom.

"Election Day voter registration is one of the easiest steps our state Legislature could take to expand voter participation," said Doug Israel of Citizens Union, one of the five groups.

New York also disqualifies a large share of paper ballots: 59 percent or 151,776 last year. The national average is 35 percent.

The Legislature is now considering election law changes.


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