Equal Time: Setting the record straight on recent votes

While thumbing through my favorite local newspaper the other day, I happened upon an editorial by a former political candidate Abigail Caplovitz Field opining about my votes on an election reform package that passed the Legislature a few weeks ago. The rhetorical title caught my attention and, as is typical in 2019, the article had an ominous tone and suggested some sinister reason for the positions I took. As I read further, I realized that Ms. Fields actually misrepresented some of my votes and a few others needed better clarification.

Keeping in mind that despite our differences in ideology, I know and respect Ms. Fields so I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she wasn’t intentionally trying to mislead or disseminate “fake news.” However, I’ll take this opportunity to briefly explain my position on those bills she highlighted with a few corrections:

• Early voting — I did vote “no.” Several studies have indicated that early voting “had no measurable increase in voter turnout.” In fact, the Washington Post wrote in December 2016 that some studies have concluded that early voting states had a reduction in the overall turnout for the election cycle. Most importantly, the central reason for my “no” vote was the governor did not fund the new process. This unfunded mandate will now require polling places to be open for 9 more days at the expense of our local taxpayers and Boards of Elections who are already quite overburdened. I think we pay enough in taxes on Long Island and the cost will be in the millions of dollars. For those purposes, I voted against this new mandate. In that vein, I actually voted “yes” on the No Excuse Vote by Mail bill. No excuse absentee voting is a great idea particularly since we already have the absentee program in place and this is the best way to improve voter turnout.

• Same Day Registration, Statewide Voter Registration Transfer and Preregistration of 16-year-olds — I did vote “no” on these due to the fact that there is currently no way to verify if someone registering to vote is actually eligible to do so, they were unfunded mandates that will cost the taxpayer and the early registration does not actually register 16- and 17-year-olds. It sounds like a great idea, but under this bill, after the preregistered 16-year-old turns 18, they still have to verify their qualifications and address with the Board of Elections. So after all of the fanfare, the individual still has to go back to the Board of Elections and essentially re-register anyway. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not free. I’d rather the New York State Department of Education place a greater focus on civics in our classrooms than have us create an unnecessary preregistration process and force our local Boards to pay for it.

• Closing the LLC Loophole — I actually voted “yes” on this bill. It’s been a long time coming (the governor has collected millions of campaign dollars as a result of this loophole), so I’m glad it’s finally law.

As I mentioned above, the hysteria that we currently call American politics can evoke passion in all of us and I have a feeling this legislative session will be no different. Quite frankly, I expect I will see a few more opinions contrary to mine before the summer break from Albany, particularly in light of the governor’s new extremely liberal agenda. He has already signed legislation that provides college scholarships to illegal immigrants and another that allows late-term abortions, while pushing to legalize recreational marijuana, eliminate cash bail and to bring sports betting to New York — and we are only three weeks into the year! I welcome any opinion about my performance and a healthy debate, as this is what makes America the greatest country the world has ever known — but cooler heads must always prevail and fact check. This is always important before lashing out publicly since in this political climate, more misleading accusations are the last thing we need.

Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo represents the 2nd Assembly District.

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