By Kayla Burton Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – On Monday, many Syracuse community members gathered downtown for a rally highlighting additional voting reforms.
As the deadline for the New York state legislative session nears in about two weeks, many decided to speak at this rally in order to push for additional voting reforms prior to the end of this session. Reforms like automatic voter registration, restoration of voting rights to people on parole, and more inclusive primaries were mentioned during the rally.
Various members of the community came with signs saying, ” Let New York Vote” or “Restore the Vote.” And while some were standing, holding these signs with open ears, others went to the podium to express their personal opinion on voting reforms.
Onondaga County Board of Elections Dustin Czarny attended this rally, offering his opinions on the matter.
“Automatic voter registration is a final piece in the 2019 legislative agenda that will supercharge all the other reforms that we have passed this year,” Czarny said. “Whether its early voting or pre-registration of 16- or 17-year-olds, automatic voter registration can taint those reforms and take them to the next level.”
Czarny was not the only one with ideas to bring to the table. Al-almin Muhammed, 0nce a former 12-year prisoner and now an activist, also stepped to the front, sharing his testimony on how voting not only gave him a say in the community, but added to his worth as an individual.
“I didn’t make the best choices in my time, and had to pay time because of it,” Muhammed said. Despite Muhammed’s mistakes, he not only fought for the freedom for his own life, but the lives of others.
“And I promised myself that I need to be a part of this because there’s a lot of people right now feeling the same way I felt several years ago. I talked to a couple of brothers in prison right now who just gave up, because they felt that when they get out on parole, their voice is not to be heard,” said Muhammed. “And I just want to tell everyone today that we need to go out to the community and need to tell our brothers and sister’s that they have a voice, they are somebody.”
Other members of the community shared their views on voting reform, and afterwards discussed some of the strategies moving forward, so that these additions would be implemented before the legislative session deadline. This rally not only sparked more discussion on voting reforms, but authentic care for those who don’t have the freedom to vote today.