The following press release was issued by the office of Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, following a press conference Friday morning.
With a major voter fraud case currently unfolding in the state, Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, was joined today by Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell and board of elections commissioners from throughout the 99th Assembly District at a press conference on the steps of the Historical Putnam County Courthouse to announce new statewide legislation that targets the high incidences of voter fraud in our state.
“This legislation is a simple, commonsense measure that will go a long way toward ensuring elections in New York State are more secure, and represent the actual residents of a community,” said Assemblyman Katz. “Government-issued photo identification is already required in every other facet of life; there is no reason why our democratic-process should be excluded from this basic safeguard.”
A strong advocate for reforming the democratic process, Assemblyman Katz was prompted to author and introduce this original legislation after the highly-publicized case of widespread voter fraud in Troy, New York went to trial earlier this year. The opening arguments for the case began Monday after more than a year of investigations led to the indictments of a city council member, two county officials and a board of elections commissioner on more than 116 counts of alleged forgery or possession of forged ballots during the 2009 Working Families Party primary. Four others have already pleaded guilty in the case.
The ongoing Troy case is not the only time the Working Families Party has been associated with voter fraud. Following the 2008 Presidential elections, the national media attention was focused on exposing the widespread cases of voter fraud contributed to ACORN, the community-action organization that works in close partnership with the Working Families Party throughout the country. In fact, the media attention led to a series of investigations on ACORN including in Washington State, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Nevada where the Las Vegas registrar of voters publicly commented that he believed as much as 48 percent of ACORN’s voter forms are “clearly fraudulent.”
Assemblyman Katz stated, “My legislation is not politically-motivated. I am not looking at one particular party but throughout our state and nation’s history there have been widespread attempts to fix elections through voter fraud. From Tammany Hall to Troy, voter fraud has too long corrupted our elections – and as a people’s representative, I believe it is high time we took some common-sense action to get our elections back.”
The new legislation, Assembly Bill 9041, requires that all voters bring with them and present government-issued photo identification at the polls. Currently, 31 states require all voters to show ID before voting, with 15 states requiring this identification to include a photo. These states include Georgia, Indiana, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Hawaii, Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Putnam County BOE Commissioner Anthony Scannapieco said, “As a Commissioner of Elections for 21 years, this legislation is long overdue. People must provide photo identification in almost every aspect in life today. As the Assemblyman has mentioned just a few of the voter fraud cases throughout this nation, it is time that the State of New York get on board to protect the integrity of its elections. It is no surprise to me that those who were concerned with fraud and demanded voting machines with a verified paper trail would now object to the simplest of protections by providing a photo ID.”
According to statistics compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, roughly 1,000 voter fraud bills have been introduced in 46 states since 2001 with 18 states passing major legislation to combat voter fraud or tighten existing voter ID requirements. Although legislation has been introduced during this time regarding voter fraud in New YorkState, the legislature has failed to vote on any bills that would safeguard elections from voter fraud during this time.
Dutchess County BOE Commissioner Erik Haight stated, “The efforts of Assemblyman Katz to reduce voter fraud in New YorkState is valiant and should be applauded. Requiring photo ID at the polls would be a step in the right direction and easy to implement; however, I doubt the democratically-controlled Assembly would permit any common sense legislation like this to ever see the light of day.”
Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell said, “This is a step to ensure that one of the most important American citizens’ rights is secured and should further remind people of their right and duty to vote.”
Assemblyman Katz’s legislation, A.9041, has currently been referred to the Assembly’s Election Law Committee. With this year’s elections just a few months ahead, Assemblyman Katz encourages citizens who are in support of the bill to contact their state legislators to ask them to become a sponsor of the bill, or to contact Assemblyman Michael Cusick, the Chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee, and ask that the bill be considered for an up-or-down vote by the full Assembly. To contact Assemblyman Cusick, please e-mail his office at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at his legislative office: The Honorable Michael Cusick, LegislativeOfficeBuilding, Room 724, Albany, New York 12248.
Westchester County BOE Commissioner Douglas Colety said, “I applaud Assemblyman Katz for introducing this necessary piece of legislation. Our state should take all measures necessary to ensure our right to vote, which stands as one of the cornerstones of our nation, is protected from any and all potential fraudulent actions. Requiring photo identification to vote is exactly the kind of common sense solution Albany should embrace. This measure will assist in validating the people’s voice at the polls and further protect our democratic institution.”
Assemblyman Katz said, “This year between redistricting, the Presidential election and the many special elections in our region, it is more important than ever that Albany take an aggressive and proactive stand on combating voter fraud. My bill is a very simple step, that could be implemented at no cost, yet help ensure that our elections are more honest.”
Note: The original post was edited to clarify that it is a submitted press release.