For Immediate Release
December 22, 2020
ALBANY, NY – Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that makes New York the 19th state to adopt automatic voter registration. This policy, first developed by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, will streamline and improve voter registration at a variety of state agencies. When it takes effect, people who are eligible to vote will be registered automatically, unless they opt out, when they apply for many types of services, including Medicaid, unemployment, and public housing.
Sean Morales-Doyle, Deputy Director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said: “New Yorkers want to make their voices heard in our democracy – just look at the record numbers who voted in November. For too long, though, New York has made it unnecessarily difficult to register to vote, silencing many potential voters.
“An estimated 1.1 million New Yorkers are eligible to vote but not registered. By signing automatic voter registration into law, Governor Cuomo has put the state on a path to a stronger, more inclusive democracy. Many more New Yorkers will have a say in the direction of their communities, their state, and their country.”
The New York DMV will implement the policy in January 2023, with other agencies following on January 2024. The State University of New York (SUNY) will be added as an AVR agency in January 2025.
Automatic voter registration is part of a suite of voting reforms passed by the New York state legislature in 2019–2020, including early voting, pre-registration for 16– and 17-year-olds, and portability of registration records, which allows voters to transfer their voter registration anywhere in the state in the event that they change address.
A 2019 Brennan Center report found that automatic voter registration increased registration rates between 9 and 94 percent in jurisdictions across the country. Now that New York has passed this bill, more than one-third of Americans live in a jurisdiction that has either passed or implemented automatic voter registration.
More information about automatic voter registration is here.