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State Republicans decry upcoming ballot proposals

New York State Republican Committee Chair Nick Langworthy voices his displeasure over several ballot proposals ahead of Election Day
Thomas O'Neil-White
New York State Republican Committee Chair Nick Langworthy voices his displeasure Oct. 21, 2021, over several ballot proposals ahead of Election Day.

“Just Say No,” a slogan once championed by former First Lady Nancy Reagan to keep children away from drugs is now being used by New York State Republican Committee Chair Nick Langworthy on his state-wide tour in opposition to several proposals featured on the back of November’s ballot.

Ballot Proposal 1 is a constitutional amendment that in part eliminates the current bi-partisan co-executives of the Independent Redistricting Committee and the requirement of a higher vote threshold if the legislature is controlled by one party. It would then require a simple majority vote for legislature to adopt the plan regardless of what party controls the legislature.

Outside of the Erie County Board of Elections Thursday, Langworthy, alongside Senator Rob Ortt and Assemblyman William Barclay, voiced his displeasure at was he sees as an attack on democracy.

“Let's keep our independent redistricting independent let's not let the powerful people in Albany gerrymander districts, and strip voices away from communities,” he said.

What Langworthy sees as the proposal taking the power of remapping districts out of the hands of the independent commission and into the hands of party politicians, Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner sees just the opposite.


“It means the redistricting commission has the same powers it's always had,” she said. “That the members have the broader ability to choose competent co-executive directors.”

And Lerner said the commission has the ability to choose whomever they like regardless of party affiliation.

“It could be two republican co executives,” she said. “It could be two unaffiliated co executives. You know, one of the problems that we have here is that there's a confusion between bipartisan and nonpartisan. What voters want is nonpartisan election administration and redistricting.”

Proposal 4 would increase access to voting by allowing voters to request an absentee ballot without the need of an excuse. Ortt believes the state already makes it easy enough for people to vote in absentia.

State Senator Rob Ortt opposes several proposals on November's ballot
Thomas O'Neil-White
State Senator Rob Ortt opposes several proposals on November's ballot.

“You want to vote by mail because you're out of town or you're sick or you can't be there,” he said. “Or you have some physical limitation that prevents you from getting in the polls. There’s ways to make sure you can get that vote in. When I was deployed in Afghanistan, I voted from the hood of my Humvee in a combat zone.”

Thirty-four states plus the District of Columbia currently allow no-excuse absentee voting but Ortt believes this will lead to ballot harvesting or the collection of ballots by a third-party who then delivery them to a ballot collection site.

“It happens in many other states that already have no excuse to vote by mail,” he said. “What we're talking about is organizations with a vested interest in the outcome of that election, going to people with ballots that are already filled out and saying I just need you to sign. It's modern-day ballot box stuffing.”

Lerner said the proposals are reforms to increase voter access across the state and the Just Say No tour is a fear-mongering ploy devoid of evidence to back its claims.

“These are common sense reforms that open up the voting process to more New Yorkers. Which by the way, is a good thing,” she said.

As of July, 2020 ballot collecting or ballot harvesting was used in some form by 26 states and Washington, D.C.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.