Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Candidate for NY Attorney General Addresses Voting Rights

Rachel Treichler, 54, an attorney from Hammondsport, formally announced her candidacy for the Green Party nomination for Attorney General of New York this morning in front of the Susan B. Anthony House on Madison St. in Rochester. The statewide nominees of the Green Party will be chosen at a nominating convention in Albany on May 20, 2006.

"This is the house where Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872, where she served as founder and president of the National Women's Suffrage Association, and where she died 100 years ago last month without having seen women obtain the right to vote. That right was not granted to women in New York until 1917, and was not granted throughout the United States until the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920.

"I am announcing my candidacy at this historic location," Treichler said, "to draw attention to the voting rights issues still faced by the people of this state. Although our country made great strides during the past century enfranchising classes of citizens who formerly were denied the right to vote, such as women, blacks, native Americans, poor people and young people, numerous barriers to voting limit our franchise.

"There are six major barriers we face today in exercising our rights to vote.

"First are barriers to actually voting through voter ID requirements, not allowing same day voter registration, having election day be a work day, citizenship requirements, and prohibitions on felons voting. All these impediments should be removed and all residents of our state should have a say in electing the lawmakers of our state.

"Second are techniques and devices used to keep our votes from being counted after they have been cast. We need to use hand counted paper ballots like they do in Canada. This is the safest method of counting votes, and the cheapest!

"Third, restrictive ballot access laws reduce the number of candidates allowed on the ballot. Voters have fewer candidates to choose among for almost all public offices today than voters did a hundred years ago. We need to remove these restrictions and give voters more choices.

"Fourth, money is allowed to dominate the forums of debate, so that the vast majority of the voices people hear speaking on issues are the voices of money. We don't have free and fair elections if voters don't get to hear the voices of candidates without money. We need public forums where all candidates have equal opportunities to speak.

"Fifth, we have the gerrymandering of election districts to favor individual candidates of the two major parties. Multi-candidate districts with proportional voting would reduce the significance of individual districts and allow more segments our society to be represented in our governmental bodies.

"Finally, we need to switch to methods of voting like instant run-off voting that allow everyone's choices to be counted.

"What does it mean when many people can't vote, when we don't have candidates representing our views on the ballot, when candidates with money are allowed to dominate the forums of debate, when election districts are gerrymandered to favor incumbents, and when we have a winner take all voting system?

"It means that important issues are never debated—that crucial decisions are made without input from and contrary to the interests of the majority of the people in this state. We need elected officials who are not beholden to the two major parties and the interests they represent. We need to make sure that our rights to vote and our rights to free and fair elections are protected."

Treichler, who practiced law with two large New York City law firms for eight years, and then ran an environmental book store in Brooklyn, now has a part-time law practice in Hammondsport and sells environmental books online at She ran as the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 29th Congressional District in 2002.

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