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Press Release

Governor Cuomo Signs Automatic Voter Registration into Law in New York

New York becomes 19th state to adopt the policy, which makes voter registration more accessible. New Yorkers who are eligible to vote will be registered automatically when they apply for services at designated state agencies unless they opt out.

December 21, 2020

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.