People in need without representation

About 1.7 million New Yorkers lack political representation in the state legislature, because of the resignation of several Assembly members and senators and the removal from office of others due to corruption.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t seem to be in a rush to prioritize giving these constituents a voice in Albany. Cuomo apparently thinks that having special elections would be too expensive for the government. We urge the governor to reconsider the situation. No one should be denied the right to vote and have representation through elections, based only on financial considerations. This is especially true given that budget negotiations—which will decide fund allocations for several programs—start next month. All the unrepresented seats are in the city; six of them, including a senatorial seat, are in poor, Latino and African-American majority districts in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Thanks to Cuomo’s inaction, these residents won’t have anyone to vote or advocate for them in hundreds of issues and measures being considered.

EDLP’s sources suspect that the governor’s lack of interest may be due to political reasons—whether keeping in mind the budget or seeking to calm the fears of Republicans, who would be at a disadvantage with elections in Democratic districts. Although the governor is a Democrat, he needs Republicans in order to be able to advance his second-term agenda.

According to state law, the governor is the only official authorized to call for special elections. We ask him to take immediate action in favor of his constituents and set aside his political agenda.

The governor’s decision not to hold these elections is disrespectful to the residents of unrepresented districts. Their rights to elect their representatives as soon as possible must be a priority, not part of a secondary agenda or subject to political maneuvering. Cuomo has the obligation to set a date for special elections right away. He must let registered voters have a voice in Albany that represents their needs and interests—a voice that isn’t disregarded in favor of others.