NY gov expands voter registration access

NY gov expands voter registration access

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has ordered more state agencies to provide voter registration forms to state residents in an effort to increase participation in elections.

In an executive order signed Monday, Cuomo ordered state agencies that interact with the public, including professional licensing and recreational agencies, to provide electronic voter registration forms or mail registration forms to those with whom they interact. 

Cuomo also created a new State Agency Voter Registration Task Force to oversee registration efforts. The task force will be run by two of Cuomo’s top aides.

Cuomo, who is said to be considering a run for president in 2020, cited President Trump’s election integrity task force as a threat to voter access, as well as Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

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“It is our responsibility to make it as easy as possible for people to vote because that’s what democracy looks like,” Cuomo said in a statement. “As the federal government and foreign powers threaten the sanctity of America’s democracy, I am exercising my executive power to expand the availability and opportunity for every New Yorker to register to vote.”

Cuomo’s executive order will require the state’s two largest university systems, the State University of New York and the City University of New York, to review their voter registration practices to boost participation among young adults.

New York has one of the lower turnout rates in the nation. Just 57.3 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential contest, lower than all but five other states, according to the U.S. Elections Project, maintained by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald. 

In the 2014 midterm elections, only 29 percent of eligible New Yorkers cast a ballot, a lower turnout rate than every state except Indiana.

Cuomo introduced legislation earlier this year to dramatically expand early voting and to implement same-day voter registration in New York. The state currently allows voters to cast an absentee ballot early, if they can show proof that they will not be able to vote on Election Day.

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia allow some form of early voting without an excuse.