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White Plains; WPHOC- Atty. Gen. urges broad election reforms; By: John Golden Posted date: June 07, 2013 In: Government, Law, Westchester

Addressing a lawyer-heavy audience in White Plains Thursday, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged his legal colleagues to take on election reform issues and help create more inclusive and competitive voting to restore public integrity and unseat corruption in Albany.

Schneiderman was keynote speaker at the seventh annual Above the Bar Awards ceremony at Pace Law School Thursday evening. Four attorneys and a Pace law student were honored at the event, whose sponsors included the Westchester County Business Journal.

Despite the recent flurry of arrests and ongoing investigations of state and local elected officials for alleged abuses of their public offices, “I don’t think there’s more corruption now than there was 30 or 50 years ago” in New York politics, Schneiderman said. Rather, more prosecutors now “are refusing to turn a blind eye to this and going after” elected officials reported by whistleblowers.

“It’s about restoring public confidence in a system that is essential to our democracy,” he said. Schneiderman said a more comprehensive approach is needed to combat corruption and protect taxpayers from misuse of public funds. Voting and voter registration should be made easier, the attorney general said, suggesting early voting to reduce Election Day polling place lines and weekend voting.

Universal registration, a system in which government would automatically enroll citizens as voters, “is possible in new York,” he said. The state’s top lawyer said many leads in public integrity cases handled by his office arise from contested elections, which serve as a check on misuse of public office by entrenched incumbents. “Most elections now are uncontested,” he said. “New York has a woeful rate of voter participation.

” In the election last November, the state had a 35 percent voter turnout, the third worst in the U.S., he said. “We do not have competitive elections in most parts of New York state and I think that has to be the focus of our attention,” he said. “A vigorous, robust electoral process is like a stream – it helps clean things out.

What we have in Albany now is a swamp.” “There is no reason New York cannot be a model on this issue,” Schneiderman said. Honorees and their Above the Bar awards were: • Robert A. Spolzino, former state Supreme Court justice and attorney at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker L.L.P. Pace Setter. • Jane Aoyama-Martin, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, Most Socially Conscious. • Robert Braumuller, attorney at Bleakley Platt & Schmidt L.L.P., Leading Corporate. • Anthony J. Enea, partner at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, Leading Eldercare. • Jonina Sauer, recent Pace Law School graduate, Most Promising Pace Law Student.

Copied from*** West Fair Online Article 6/07/13

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