As a part of a statewide student organization, Democracy Matters, I was proud to help increase student turnout in the mid-term elections here at SUNY Oneonta.
Now that New York students have helped Democrats gain control of all three branches of our state government, we want elected officials to deliver what they have promised us for years: To create a democracy where wealthy special interests’ power does not drown out all of our voices, and where the roadblocks that prevent all eligible New Yorkers from exercising their right to vote are cleared.
Others have pulled this off in our own backyard. In New York City, candidates can run for office without depending on ultra-rich donors. The city’s small-donor public financing law enables everyday citizens who lack big bucks to run for office and win. As their first piece of legislation, lawmakers in Albany should support Fair Elections campaign finance reform to give every New Yorker a voice in government.
The Legislature must also make it less difficult for eligible New Yorkers to vote. While 37 other states have early voting and 15 have automatic and same-day voter registration, New York does not. Because of this, students in the state, like myself, often find it difficult to register and vote. We need updated voting laws to ensure a fair and inclusive democracy.
Young people want to believe in and trust our government. Many of us aspire to run for office someday. But without these critical voting and campaign finance reforms, we will be unable to stand for election and serve. That’s why Albany must finally get it right now and guarantee a democracy we can be a proud of. Voters of all ages have spoken. Now it’s time for Albany to deliver.
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