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New York Senate

Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the New York Senate will pass legislation that will "build on the voting reforms we passed first thing last session, and will empower more New Yorkers to register to vote and utilize early voting opportunities."

Automatic voter registration tops New York Legislature's agenda

Another easing of access to the polls across New York will be at the top of the agenda this winter for the Democrats totally in charge of the Legislature for a second year.

Lawmakers are reconvening Wednesday and the election overhaul energy is mainly in the Senate, which changed partisan hands last year to give Democrats unified control of Albany after eight years of divided government.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins promised passage by the end of the week of measures that will "build on the voting reforms we passed first thing last session, and will empower more New Yorkers to register to vote and utilize early voting opportunities." Leaders of the Assembly say they're on course to send the measures to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by the end of the month.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City Councilman Brad Lander, here at a news conference in July, is now pushing a new campaign finance curb.

Ranked-choice voting won in NYC with obscured cash. A reformer wants to change that.

New York City's approval of ranked-choice voting was one of the year's biggest wins for democracy reformers. But the million-dollar push for the ballot measure was fueled by one of the institutions most reviled in "good governance" circles: dark-money groups.

Now one prominent lawmaker, with a proven record of tightening campaign finance rules in the nation's biggest city, has plans to prevent such an irony in the future.

City Councilman Brad Lander is readying legislation to expand the current disclosure requirements for donations in local elections to include ballot proposals. The transparency rules now mandate donor disclosures only for political messaging related to candidates. But that law's enactment was spearheaded five years ago by Lander, and the Brooklyn Democrat says it's time to close a loophole he left behind.

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Balance of Power

A Democratic proposal would make it significantly more difficult for third parties to get on the ballot in New York.

In the Empire State, Democrats push to perpetuate a two-party empire

Those who say the two-party duopoly is not so great for the republic will not be heartened by developments in New York this week.

Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the Democratic Party in the fourth largest state, is pushing to effectively neutralize almost all of the Empire State's minor political parties. And his proposal seems to have the ear of others on a special commission charged with revising some aspects of election law by the end of the year.

His other ideas for eliminating third parties have not gone far. This one looks like it will.

The new Jacobs plan would increase fivefold, to about 250,000, the number of votes a political party needs to receive in one election in order to get a line on the ballot in the next one. Republicans and Democrats, who routinely draw more than 2 million votes each in statewide contests, are the only parties for which this would be no problem.

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