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January 17, 2019

Democracy is coming? New York is getting closer to being a real, functioning government of, by and for the people

January 14, 2019
Heastie and Stewart-Cousins are repairing broken elections. (Mike Groll / AP)

Picking the right first place to make its mark, the Democrat-controlled state Legislature today will overhaul laws that flummox citizens eager to have their voices heard.

Across the country, early voting is common, letting people who can’t manage to get free on a Tuesday the chance to cast a ballot. In New York, you can get bent.

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In other states, voting by mail is easy; same-day voter registration is the norm. Not here.

Albany has state and federal primaries on different days, wasting money and ensuring turnout stays embarrassingly low.

If, led by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, legislators finally begin to change all this, then Gov. Cuomo signs on the line, and — no small final condition — the state and city Boards of Elections don’t royally botch implementation, it’ll be a new day.

It is no coincidence that the very same state that restricts voter participation grotesquely magnifies the influence of wealthy donors.

Which is why it matters mightily that pols are also set to cap contributions on limited liability corporations at $5,000 and disclose the true donor. Today, the richest New Yorkers can set up hard-to-track shell corporations and shovel essentially unlimited cash to their favorite candidates.

Between these fixes and pay reforms banning outside income, it’s almost like we have a real democracy.

Now would it be too much to implement independent redistricting, and limit contributions by those doing business with the state, and equalize legislative staffing, and demand bills are passed only after rigorous hearings?

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