New York: Trade Tax Break for HAVA Failure?

There is an interesting proposal today in the Albany (New York) Times Union by Brad Williams. He suggests that New York literally put its money where its mouth is for failing to implement HAVA. He observes:

Since our state government has yet to uphold its moral and legal obligations to fully implement HAVA, I suggest that the state should demonstrate an interim act of good faith by immediately establishing a new program for New Yorkers with disabilities.

The “Fundamental Right” state income tax break would give qualified enrollees a two-fifths break on their state income tax. Only a person enrolled in the program could take advantage of the tax break. To qualify for the tax break, a person would have to:

  • Be a resident of and registered voter in New York state.
  • Have a disability, as defined under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Sign a sworn statement to verify that he or she cannot vote privately or independently at his or her designated polling site.

In return, participants in the program would agree not to file and pursue legal action related to their voting rights against New York state during the time that they are enrolled and take the tax break.

The tax break would end the year after the U.S. Department of Justice verifies that New Yorkers with disabilities can vote privately and independently, as specified under HAVA.

This would force New York to compensate disabled New Yorkers for their complete lack of competence in handling election reform. Williams starts his proposal by noting that Governor Pataki did not even bother to use his state of the state address as a bully pulpit to motivate the legislature–or state agencies–to get cracking and avoid making the mess they are in even worse. One has to wonder how big an example the Justice Department will decide to make of the state over HAVA.