Making Democracy Work


The Local Program Positions for the LWVNYS well as the LWVNYS links and blog.

Funding for Early Voting

In January, the Legislature voted to pass early voting, making New York the 38th state in the nation to provide voters with nine additional days to vote before an election. Although the Governor swiftly signed the bill into law, his proposed budget does not include any funding for it; sticking counties with the cost. In contrast, the Assembly and Senate set aside a combined $17M to cover general operating expenses. In addition, the Assembly allocated $27M for electronic poll books and printers.

"New York cannot starve the state and county Boards of Elections of necessary funding to run secure and accessible elections. The Senate and the Assembly have already put a combined $44 million in their one house budgets to cover the cost of early voting, electronic pollbooks, and election administration. The Governor cannot cut funding while adding new responsibilities. It's time he gets on board, or else New York will continue to rank among the worst in the country for election reform," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and founding member of Let NY Vote.

"Funding for early voting and electronic pollbooks must be included in this budget. Without adequate funding, these legislative victories will be unfunded mandates on our counties. To be truly successful in increasing voter participation in our elections, the legislators and Governor must complete their commitment to these voting reforms with funding. The League believes that voting should be easy and accessible to all voters," said Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of NYS.

The Governor has suggested that the future consolidation of primaries (which does not go into effect until 2020) will produce a cost savings to offset the cost of early voting. According to a study done by Citizens Union, cost estimates for early voting project at least $22 million in dedicated appropriations in order for it to run successfully.


Executive Proposal
The most glaring and noticeable omission from the executive budget were reforms to strengthen and improve ethics enforcement.

League's Position
The League believes that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission need to be replaced with one effective and independent ethics enforcement agency

State Voter

Voting Reform Passage

The state League's statement on the passage was as follows: "As the New York State League proudly celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, it is a truly monumental achievement to finally see the passage of early voting, same day voter registration, and primary consolidation in New York State! Each of the reforms passed by the Assembly and Senate are huge advances to New York's election procedures. With these new policies in place, New York should no longer rank among the worst states in the Nation in voter participation.

Since the 1960's the state League has fought for comprehensive voting reforms. We are proud to be a part of this historic event and we applaud the New York State Assembly and Senate for finally passing these reforms. We thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for their leadership and dedication to these issues. We commend the legislators who have long supported these voting reforms, even in the face of previous gridlock. Finally we want to recognize our members who have fought tirelessly to see New York's voting system made more accessible to all New Yorkers. We look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor on the roll-out of these new policies."


Voter Registration Modernization: automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee voting, improvements to the way voters mark their ballots by better ballot design.

Campaign Finance:
a significant reduction of all contribution limits, special "pay-to-play" limits on contributions by lobbyists and those who do business with the state and eliminating the LLC loophole. The League also supports a small-donor matching public finance system.
Ethics: effective implementation and improvements of ethics laws, including monitoring the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).
Legislative Reform: The League believes that the state legislature should adopt better methods for discharging bills and better use of the committee process.

Improved Access:
The League supports allocation of medical resources to underserved areas, healthy living promotion, disease prevention, school-based health services, women's health issues, long-term care, and adequate financing of the tobacco control program. The League supports a single-payer system. The League also supports measures for enhancing the safety of patients and staff in acute and long-term care facilities.

Streamlined court system:
The League supports a unified state court system, choosing judges on the basis of merit and continues to support improvements in the judicial selection process.
Statewide Guidelines for Law Enforcement: Support of adequate indigents' defense services, alternatives to incarceration and protection of children's legal rights. Juvenile justice should focus on rehabilitation rather than punitive action.

Energy and Climate Change:
the League supports legislation, regulation and executive action to protect natural resources, public health, and the economy from impacts of the fossil fuel industry and favors the development of renewable energy to meet emissions goals and slow climate change.
Hazardous Waste: the League supports the proper labeling and disposal of hazardous waste products and a ban on importing drilling and other "hazardous" waste from other states.
Electric Grid: the League supports financing for and creation of an electrical grid that facilitates the distribution of renewable energy to the maximum number of people, enabling locally generated electrical power from renewable sources.
Clean Water: The League has supported since 1970 the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The League also supports funding to clean up toxic waste dumps and segregate and properly treat hazardous waste on land and remediate polluted waterways in our state.
Agriculture: The League supports policies that protect food production and distribution while diverting food waste from New York's landfills, incinerators and other waste treatment facilities.

Greater Equity in Education Financing:
Past Campaign for Fiscal Equity court-ordered state aid increases should be funded, the property tax system should be reformed and the League opposes the Education Investment Tax Credit.

Fair Pay
: The League supports fair pay reforms, including passage of equal-pay-for-job- titles-of-comparable-worth legislation.
Paid Family Leave and Childcare: The League supports gender neutral paid family leave to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent. The League supports affordable, quality childcare, and compensation for childcare workers at a rate commensurate with responsibility and skill.
Domestic Violence: The League supports measures to reduce the incidence and effects of domestic violence. We also support protections against discrimination for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Reproductive Choice: The League supports the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices under its government position. The League believes that the federal constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade should be written into New York state law.

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA):
The League supports GENDA in order to protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination.
Livable Wage: The League supports a living wage, based on our national position about meeting basic human needs.

Restore Public Trust

Below are the basic methods for restoring public trust that are agreed upon by groups that include the League of Women Voters of New York State, NYPIRG, Citizens Union, Reinvent Albany and Common Cause

Clean Contracting. Strict new accountability measures that would result in an open, ethical, and efficient way to award government contracts appropriations, an area which was identified as a key problem in the indictments of the governor's top aides.

Real Budget Transparency. Make lump sum budget appropriations and the resulting expenditures fully transparent.

Ban "Pay to Play." Strict "pay to play" restrictions on state vendors. The U.S. Attorney's charges that $800 million in state contracts were rigged to benefit campaign contributors to the governor and underscores the need to strictly limit contributions from those seeking state contracts.

Close "LLC Loophole." Ban unlimited campaign contributions via Limited Liability Companies. LLCs have been at the heart of some of Albany's largest scandals. Strict Limits on Outside Income. Real limits on the outside income for legislators and the executive branch. Moonlighting by top legislative leaders and top members of the executive branch has triggered indictments by the federal prosecutors.

Effective Watchdogs. Truly independent, effective, well-resourced, ethics enforcement agencies are needed.

Education Lesson Plans for High School Seniors

Teaching High School Students how to Engage in Politics: League of Women Voters and NYS Social Studies Supervisory Association Release Voter Education Lesson Plans for High School Seniors

The League of Women Voters of New York State's Education Foundation and the NYS Social Studies Supervisory Association (NYS4A) are pleased to announce the publication of seven lesson plans for teachers of the New York Grade 12 Participation in Government course. The goal of these lessons is to educate New York State's future voters to become active citizens. Students will develop a better understanding of how public policy is made in New York and learn more about their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

The seven lesson plans are designed to provide teachers and students with information specific to New York State. Lessons can be customized to meet the needs of individual classrooms or student interests and are designed to be inquiry-based and non-partisan. The lessons are based on the Key Ideas and Social Studies Practices of the New York State Social Studies Curriculum Framework. The lesson plans could be integrated into existing units or combined for a unit of instruction on New York government. With these lesson plans, Participation in Government teachers would have ready-made resources which will engage high school seniors.

Lesson topics include:
The structure of New York State Government
Individual rights and responsibilities in New York State
Voting in New York State
The Public Policy Process (Laws) in New York
Influencing New York State Government
Participating in Political Action in Your Local Community
Participating in Community Service in Your Local Community

In addition to materials in the lesson plans, teachers are encouraged to consult the Voter Services resources developed and published by the League of Women Voters New York. Updated voter services information, including voter rights, voter registration information, voting locations, find your elected official, and district maps, is available on the League of Women Voters New York website (

The lesson plans were written by three New York Social Studies teachers: Kathleen Argus, Syracuse City School District Jody Butts, Susquehenna Valley Public Schools Robert Keyser, Shenendehowa Central School District

and edited by Lisa Kissinger, Social Studies Academic Administrator, Shenendehowa Central Schools, and President of the New York State Social Studies Supervisory Association; Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters New York and Jennifer Wilson, Director of Program and Policy, League of Women Voters New York.

League of Women Voters of New York State

Capitol Beat Blog

The League of Women Voters of NYS is pleased to announce the return of "Capitol Beat." This informative and entertaining column, written by the LWVNYS Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti will contain legislative updates about League issues, as well as political gossip. We will also outline the budget and of course, will chronicle the always-lively end of session. We have created a blog page for "Capitol Beat" on our League website, and we welcome your comments posted on this blog page. We have also linked the Legislative Calendar so you have all the dates of the legislative session. So, check out the blog and continue to watch it for updates - we hope to keep it lively and current. Get all the latest legislative info right on our website and blog!