Gov. Andrew Cuomo inked legislation Tuesday that will give New Yorkers the option to automatically apply to become voters when they fill out forms for other services, a reform long sought by good government groups who say it will boost turnout in elections.
“The right to vote is one of, if not the most, sacred pillars of our democracy and for too long, bureaucratic red tape has made it unnecessarily difficult for New Yorkers to exercise this right,” said Cuomo in a statement.
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn).
Under the new law, agencies that typically interact with New Yorkers — like the State University of New York system, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Labor and Health departments — will be able to send information provided on applications for government licenses and services to the state Board of Elections for voter registration.
The applicants would have to give their permission for the information to be forwarded on to election officials and only eligible voters would be added to the poll books.
“Access to the ballot box should be easy and fair, and enacting Automatic Voter Registration will go a long way towards improving voter participation,” said Ginaris in a statement.
Walker said the new law would give a much needed upgrade to New York’s “antiquated voter registration system.”
The DMV is set to be the first major agency to give voters the automatic registration option, beginning in 2023.