Votes against bill to protect voters’ personal medical information
An important voting reform bill passed in the Assembly last week. New York State’s absentee ballot application will be simplified if it passes the State Senate, too. Only 5 members took the radical position to oppose the reform. Assemblyman Molinaro was one of the 5 “NO” votes.
The simplified form would require less personal supporting information, like the name of the voter’s physician – information that some voters might prefer not to provide on a publicly available document. And by eliminating the requirement for that information, the new law would also eliminate an excuse for election lawyers to throw out votes cast when that information wasn’t provided, by oversight or out of privacy concerns.
The bill was popular and passed despite Molinaro’s opposing vote. It passed by a huge margin, 137 yays to only 5 nays. The majority of Republicans even voted for it. Now, the reform measure moves to the Senate for a vote.
Molinaro defended his “NO” vote, saying voters should provide specific information such as names of doctors or hospitals when they ask to vote absentee. “You need a note when you’re home sick from school…” What he fails to say is that a note for the teacher doesn’t require personal information like a doctor’s name. The other thing he doesn’t say is that a note would still be required – the voter would still have to complete a form and swear to the truth of it.
Molinaro complained that criticism of his “NO” vote was unfair, claiming it must be a partisan attack. Yet his “NO” vote against the bill was either hypocritical or a flip-flop. Molinaro is listed as a multi-sponsor on the bill!
Why did Molinaro sponsor the bill and then vote against it (along with Assemblyman Tedisco)? Molinaro may want to reduce absentee voting in the Hudson Valley. Remember the bruising loss of the Congressional seat last Spring – a contest that Republican frontrunner Tedisco lost when all the absentee votes were tallied? That race was closely watched, as Republicans tried to suppress large numbers of absentee votes cast in Columbia County.
Columbia County Democratic Commissioner of Elections Virginia Martin said that, although Molinaro had told the Register Star that he had spoken with “election commissioners” about the bill, he had not spoken to her. Concerning his claim that the bill would encourage more litigation, she said with surprise, “It’s his party that’s been doing the litigating.” Of the absentee ballot application, Martin said, “I think it should be less intrusive. The fact is that the voter, when applying for a ballot, swears to the truth of his or her statements, and I don’t see where those very personal bits of information are necessary.”
Molinaro doesn’t take criticism, such as that leveled by Columbia County’s Chris Nolan, very well. Molinaro said “I think it’s unfortunate that political leaders… want to turn what are very serious issues into party fights.” Serious issue? Molinaro has over 250 press releases posted – not one of which deals with the serious issue of improving absentee voting.
Assemblyman Molinaro called the Election Law “archaic” yet he refuses to fix these very same rules for absentee voting.