John Lewis-Absentee Voting-Diversity

From left to right:  Roberta Kaplan, Attorney who successfully overturned DOMA; John Lewis who stood with a handful of Congressmembers opposed to DOMA in 1996; Pam Karlan professor at Stanford Law School who recently testified in Congress regarding impeachment.

I hope all of you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this difficult period.

I write after the recent death of the extraordinary activist, elected official, and human being John Lewis – a man who truly changed the world for the better. Congressmember Lewis dedicated his life to racial and social justice. In the twilight of his life he was thrilled to watch the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, dedicated to racial justice and the demand that America live up to its promises to ALL of us. May the memory of John Lewis be for a blessing and an inspiration to each of us to continue the fight for justice long enough for another generation to take the leadership in that struggle.
 
The Progressive Caucus will be holding our Caucus meeting on Sunday August 2nd via Zoom from 5:00-6:30 pm.  E-Mail for the Zoom link in advance of the State Committee’s meeting on August 4th.

Absentee vs Mail-In Voting 

One critical issue we wish to address is that of whose vote gets counted in the New York elections, when we encourage voters to participate via absentee ballot. As our Vice Chair Elisa Sumner points out in her article about the problems associated with absentee voting, we should all be focused on how many absentee ballots are NOT counted – which, in a general election, always benefits the Republicans. In the name of preventing election fraud, our current election laws actually disenfranchise absentee ballot voters, whose ballots can be invalidated for the most superficial of technical reasons. 
 
Given the increased push to have people vote by absentee ballot, especially if the pandemic resurfaces in New York, the process by which absentee ballots are handled will directly affect the results of elections, including upstate freshmen Democratic congressional incumbents, and upstate and suburban Senate seats. That’s why we are putting forward a Resolution asking that our election laws be amended immediately so that absentee ballots are counted by machine and that the laws be rewritten with the presumption that an absentee ballot is legitimate, unless there is a preponderance of proof otherwise.

DNC Diversity 

On another issue of representation, we are putting forward a Resolution asking that the process by which Democratic National Committeemembers (“DNC”) are selected as candidates, be genuinely opened up, with active outreach to ensure greater diversity in terms of geographic region, age, and race. There is a gap in connection and communication between those in leadership positions such as our DNC representatives and the grassroots Democratic activists who put Democrats in office throughout New York. We believe that one way to help resolve that is to ensure that, for example, youth activists are represented on the DNC. Another way, is to ensure greater turnover in DNC representative positions, so that more people can “take a turn” in that role. If you support our resolutions, please sign them and return them to mariep@nydems.org at your earliest opportunity.
 
To win the Presidency and the U.S. Senate, to protect our freshman incumbents and continue to elect more Democrats to office in New York, we must include all kinds of Democrats in every level of Democratic Party office and outreach. So let’s go win in November, together.
 
In solidarity,
Rachel Lavine
Progressive Caucus Chair

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