Thursday, September 14, 2006

Andrea Stewart-Cousins Announces Three-Point Plan to Combat Voter Disenfranchisement in Sept. 12th Primary

Democrat Stewart-Cousins, Addressing Newly Relocated Polling Places, Calls on Board of Elections to Ensure
that Voters Know When, Where and How to Vote

Yonkers , NY — Democratic State Senate candidate Andrea Stewart-Cousins today called on the Westchester Board of Elections to implement a three-point plan to ensure that every vote is counted in the September 12th primary election.

Stewart-Cousins stated: “In 2004, thousands of votes were thrown out due to voter confusion; that could have -- and should have -- been prevented. This Primary Day, we must do everything possible to make sure that voters understand when, where and how to vote. We must ensure that every vote is counted.”

In 2004, thousands of voters were disenfranchised due to a lack of “Street Finders” at polling locations -- books that tell voters the proper Election District in which to vote -- and a lack of staff directing people to the correct voting machines.

This year, the Westchester Board of Elections has moved several poll locations to allow for handicapped accessibility.

To ensure that the confusion that disenfranchised thousands of voters in 2004 does not occur on Primary Day, Stewart-Cousins introduced her Three-Point Plan:

1. Westchester Board of Elections should send out a follow-up mailing to all voters assigned to new poll locations, stating in large font that the location has changed, and providing the address of the new location.

2. Adequately staff all polling locations and assign individuals to help direct voters to the proper voting machines.

3. Ensure that Street Finders are placed at every polling location. The Stewart-Cousins Three-Point Plan will help eliminate confusion on Primary Day and represents a crucial first step in ensuring a fair and honest election
on November 7th.

Democrat Stewart-Cousins is running for State Senate in a rematch of a fiercely contested 2004 campaign against Republican State Senator Nick Spano. In 2004, Stewart-Cousins came within just 18 votes of defeating her Republican opponent, an 18-year incumbent, despite being dramatically outspent.

SPANO CHAIRED INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE PROBES UNDERAGE DRINKING EPIDEMIC

Investigations Committee Probe to Include Testimony on New York’s liquor laws and regulations, the State Liquor Authority’s role, efforts and effectiveness in enforcement, the use of optical scanning devices to check identification at ‘cabarets’, the use of Lottery terminals as a ID-checking mechanism, mandating training for holders of ‘on-premise’ licenses, training and licensing of servers, and training and licensing of all ‘bouncers’.

“From the activity that has been going on since I first announced that today’s hearing would be taking place, it appears that we have hit a nerve.” said Senator Nick Spano (Westchester), Chair of the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations. “Not only has there been activity at the highest levels of the State Liquor Authority, but we have also seen The Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association unveil a new plan to train bars, taverns and other establishments that hold liquor licenses.”

Continuing, Senator Spano stated “Obtaining some movement on this critically important issue in advance of our Public Hearing is a definitely a positive sign. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone knows the severity of the underage drinking problem --- whether it be in New York City, the suburbs or other regions of our State.

Now, using a combination of better licensing, up-to-date training and state-of-the-art technology, our job is to
convert this knowledge into a positive, concrete plan of action.”

“The State Liquor Authority needs to adhere more to community input and enforcing existing laws, like the 500 foot rule and they must accept more responsibility for their licensed facilities so that the nature and character of our neighborhoods are protected and preserved.”, stated Senator Frank Padavan (Queens).

Senator Marty Golden (Brooklyn) stated, “I commend my colleagues Senators Nick Spano and Frank Padavan, for addressing an issue that threatens the safety of all New Yorkers. As a former New York City Police Officer, I have witnessed first hand the harmful consequences of underage drinking, and other violations of State law. New York State’s Liquor laws must be enforced in order to allow for all of us to live in a society that is respectable and secure. I believe that communities throughout New York will be for the better because of these hearings and subsequent legislative action.”

The focus of the Senate Committee on Investigations & Government Operations Public Hearing is New York’s liquor laws and regulations, the State Liquor Authority’s role, efforts and effectiveness in enforcement, the use of optical scanning devices to check identification at ‘cabarets’, the use of Lottery terminals as a ID-checking mechanism, mandating training for holders of ‘on-premise’ licenses, training and licensing of servers, and training and licensing of all ‘bouncers’.

The following individuals are slated to speak at the Public Hearing:

Robert Bookman, General Counsel, New York Nightlife Assoc.

Daniel Boyle, Chairman, New York State Liquor Authority

Brian Conroy, Deputy Chief, Commander of Vice Unit, New York Police Dept.

Honorable Richard N. Gottfried, Member, New York State Assembly

Susan Howard, Lower East Side Alliance & Norfork Street Block Assoc.

E. Charles Hunt, Executive Vice Pres. NYS Restaurant Assoc. (NYC Office)

Honorable Christine Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council

Carol Sears, Chapter President, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) West. Cty.

Scott Wexler, Executive Director, NYS Restaurant & Tavern Assoc.

The Committee on Investigations and Government Operations’ Public Hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., September 7, 2006, at 250 Broadway, New York, in the 19th floor Senate Hearing Room.

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