NEW YORK - January 6, 2021 – a day the country stopped and watched as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, looking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Now one year later, rallies in Brooklyn and Manhattan pushed back on election conspiracy theories and sought to restore trust in one of the bedrocks of our democracy – our voting system.
"I believe that it is our job to continue to fight to increase our voting opportunities across the country," Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin said at a rally in Manhattan.
"That is how we say no to the madness on January 6."
"I want to make sure that the next generation of folks looks back at us and says thank you for protecting the one thing that has kept the worst from happening," City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said at a rally in Brooklyn.
State lawmakers say they will be advancing numerous voting reform bills in the State legislature this year, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
Voters just this last election cycle shot down two constitutional amendments that would have made voting easier here in the city. A bill that would have allowed same day voter registration and a bill that would have given any eligible New Yorker an absentee ballot if requested.
But advocates and even lawmakers say Democrats failed at getting the message out about these ballot propositions.
"One side, our side, did not invest," State Senator Zellnor Myrie said addressing a crowd in Brooklyn. "Republicans did invest. And they invested in misinformation and lies and that’s why they were successful. We cannot take our democracy for granted."
One bill that was recently signed, will speed up absentee ballot counting in New York City.
Governor Kathy Hochul in her State of the State Address proposed allowing for voter registration up to ten days before an election and requiring polling locations at college campuses.
"That’s going to take money and I’ve been advocating on the state level for us to invest in our local boards of elections," Senator Myrie said. "It takes money to have staff there. It takes money to have these locations."
If Democrats in the State Legislature can come to a consensus on many of these voting reform bills, they will get passed with relative ease since Democrats have supermajorities in both the State Senate and Assembly.