-New York is as bad as the Deep South when it comes to voter disenfranchisement and Democrats share the blame, according to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In the wake of Tiffany Cabán’s concession in the Queens district attorney Democratic primary race, the freshman congresswoman is laying blame for her fellow progressive’s loss at the feet of state lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo.
“Voter disenfranchisement in the state of New York is a given,” she told the Daily News in an interview at her Queens district office on Wednesday. “Our voting laws are horrifying in how they suppress the vote and how they disenfranchise voters on a regular basis.”
Cabán conceded on Tuesday, officially cementing Melinda Katz’s 60-vote win after six weeks of contentious recounts and court battles. Ocasio-Cortez said there is plenty blame to go around, but called out Cuomo for not signing an election reform bill that Cabán supporters believe could have put the Manhattan public defender over the top.
“New York State historically has been just as bad as any deep southern state when it comes to voter disenfranchisement, whether it’s poll locations changes, whether it’s having your ballot tossed out over technicalities even though you’re a registered Democrat, which also happened in this race,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But it was legal disenfranchisement so that disenfranchisement was within the bounds of the law.”
Cuomo has yet to sign into law a bill passed by Democrats in the state legislature earlier this year that will loosen the requirements for validating affidavit ballots. The bill, passed just before the end of the legislative session in mid-June, would allow affidavit ballots to be counted as long as the voter “substantially complied” with the form.
Asked specifically about whether Gov. Cuomo is to blame, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I think that this legislation should have been signed as quickly as possible. Each day that these laws stand is a day when we allow injustice to persist.”
The bill is one of more than two dozen that will substantially change the state’s election laws, but it has yet to be sent to the governor’s desk, which is typical of end of session legislation.
Cuomo said last month that it would be “absurd” to apply the law retroactively to the June Queens DA primary. He went on argue that his office must still review the bill after he receives it, along with the other voter reform measures, and hopes to have them all in place before the November general elections.
Democrats passed a host of election-related bills this year after gaining control of both legislative chambers that they believe will help with voter turnout and participation. New laws already enacted this year include measures allowing for early voting, consolidating primaries, allowing for the use of electronic poll books and online voter registration.
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