BREAKING: NYS Legislature Passes Automatic Voter Registration

NEW YORK, NY (07/23/2020) (readMedia)-- Today the New York State Legislature passed Automatic Voter Registration (AVR). AVR would allow eligible New Yorkers to automatically register to vote when they interact with a government agency (i.e., the DMV, Department of Health), streamlining the process and making it more accessible. Currently, there are 1.1 million New Yorkers who are eligible to vote, but are unregistered. 19 states and Washington DC have already implemented some form of AVR. AVR will go into effect January 1, 2023. Now the bill heads to the Governor to sign into law.

Members of the Let NY Vote coalition - a statewide network of over 175 member organizations - celebrated.

"Today New York is one step closer to automatic voter registration, thanks to the tenacious leadership of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Mike Gianaris, Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker. Now the Governor must sign it into law and bring New York in line with 19 other states plus D.C. We can't wait, it's time to let New York vote!" said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and co-founder of the Let NY Vote Coalition.

"We congratulate our state legislature for passing an important common-sense measure to automatically register eligible voters when they interact with public agencies for everyday transactions around work, housing, and health. The fundamental right to vote should be as easy to exercise as possible, especially as so many communities are likely to continue to grapple with limitations imposed by the current pandemic for months to come. With historic stakes in this election year, it is more important than ever to put in place robust tools, policies and resources such as automatic voter registration to remove barriers to voting for essential workers, especially workers of color, and all other New Yorkers," said Kyle Bragg, SEIU 32BJ President.

"While some states and officials across the country advance cynical ploys to suppress the vote, New York is showing what expanding and strengthening democracy looks like," said Perry Grossman, senior staff attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union's voting rights project. "The passage of automatic voter registration means adding one million new voters to the rolls, including those New Yorkers historically most subject to disenfranchisement. Everyone deserves their say in our future."

"Last year, the legislature passed a number of long-overdue reforms to protect and expand the right to vote, and we are pleased to see that work continue in 2020 with the passing of Automatic Voter Registration. This increases the number of voters who can participate in the electoral process, and ensures voting rolls are more accurate - which has saved money in the states where this reform already has been implemented," said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union.

"We commend the legislature for their action on automatic voter registration, which will reduce antiquated barriers to voting and increase voter turn out. Passing this legislation will empower, and hopefully encourage, thousands of voters to participate in our elections – especially younger voters, low-income voters, and voters of color. Increased access to voting is critical to preserving our Democracy," said Robin Chappelle Golston, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts.

"We applaud the Automatic Voter Registration that makes voter registration easier for every eligible voter. Now everyone, including New Yorkers with disabilities, has one less barrier in exercising their right to vote," said Susan Dooha, Executive Director, CIDNY.

"If we want New York to be a progressive leader on issues like health care, climate action, and economic fairness, then we need every eligible voter to participate in our elections. Automatic voter registration would eliminate one of the biggest obstacles to participation-requiring voters to proactively register and keep their registration up-to-date-and would add over one million New Yorkers to the voter rolls," said Stand Up America. "This pandemic has put a spotlight on the many barriers to voting in New York and around the country that it's long past time be torn down. We applaud the New York State Legislature for finally eliminating one of those barriers for over one million New Yorkers this week. We implore Governor Cuomo to then immediately sign it into law."

"I applaud law makers for taking this important step to help more New Yorkers exercise their right to vote. Through automatic voter registration, we remove a barrier to civic participation and encourage individuals across our state to have their voices heard this November," said Crisanta Duran, NY State Director of DFER and former CO Speaker of the House.

"New York has finally entered the 21st century and is empowering citizens to exercise their right to vote! At the start of 2019, New York's restrictive, antiquated voting laws were disenfranchising new Americans and immigrant voters," said Steve Choi, Executive Director at the New York Immigration Coalition. "With the passage of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), coupled with the reforms of 2019, New York is now a national leader for voting laws. We thank the Senate and Assembly for making good on their promise to pass AVR this year with strong protections for non-citizens who may register inadvertently. We look forward to working with them, boards of elections, and individual agencies on the implementation of this much-needed reform."

"We applaud the state senate and assembly for expanding democracy in New York. Voting changes everything and Automatic Voter Registration has the potential to bring more than 1 million new voters into the process, ensuring more New Yorkers will have their voices heard," said Julie Kerr of the Brooklyn Voters Alliance.

"This primary election season has shown us how important it is to make it easier to vote. We applaud the legislature on passing automatic voter registration and taking an important step in expanding access to the ballot for New Yorkers everywhere. In conjunction with the sum of reforms we have passed in NY, we have come a long way in modernizing our electoral structure in this state," said Local Progress NY Co-Chairs, Jennifer Mecozzi, Buffalo School Board Member, and Karen Mejia, Newburgh City Councilmember.

"AVR is a major bipartisan reform victory that improves voter access and election integrity", said Jarret Berg, Co-Founder of VoteEarlyNY. "The new law modernizes and streamlines our voting records by rightfully presuming most eligible New Yorkers would prefer to be registered to vote (and can decide later whether or not to cast a ballot) as opposed to remaining unregistered and automatically excluded from participation in our democracy."

"ADL welcomes the passage of automatic voter registration (AVR) legislation here in New York. This simple yet transformative measure will help remove a key structural barrier that has historically prevented eligible voters from exercising their fundamental right to cast a ballot. At a time when voting rights are increasingly at risk, we are proud to stand with LetNYVote to celebrate this legislative effort to protect a cornerstone of our democracy," said Alexander Rosemberg, Deputy Regional Director of the ADL.