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Cuomo signs law that expedites voter registration

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Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed the New York Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2020 (S.8806 / A.8280C) into law, requiring designated State agencies to establish an automatic voter registration system as proposed by the Governor in State of the State in 2019 and 2020. 

This modernized system will expedite voter registration and create a straightforward process for New Yorkers applying for services at designated agencies to also register to vote. The law will help increase voter turnout while reducing administrative barriers to processing voter registration applications.   

"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," Governor Cuomo said. "From instituting early voting to making necessary reforms to the absentee ballot process, New York has already made elections more accessible, but we are far from finished. With this new law on the books, we are taking this work a step further and not only instituting automatic voter registration, but creating a single uniform platform for registering online."

Senator Michael Gianaris said, "At a time in our country when voting rights are under assault, New York is living up to our potential as a progressive leader. Access to the ballot box should be easy and fair, and enacting Automatic Voter Registration will go a long way towards improving voter participation. I am proud and thankful that the Governor has signed this bill, paving the way for over a million more New Yorkers to vote." 

Assembly Member Latrice M. Walker said, "I am proud to be the prime sponsor of this monumental election reform bill.  New York's antiquated voter registration system is in dire need of updating and modernization. It is time for New York to join the growing number of states who have implemented Automatic Voter Registration (AVR). 

"This bill will remove one of many barriers in our election system to help New York improve its dismal record of voter turnout. 

"This modernized voter registration system automatically transmits voter registration information from some of our most utilized state and local government agencies. 

"This will reduce costs involved in processing voter registrations and maintaining updated and accurate voter registration lists. Thank you to my colleagues for joining me in the fight to make our process more equitable and thank you to Governor Cuomo for signing this landmark AVR legislation."

The new law designates the Department of Motor Vehicles and other State agencies that interact directly with New York residents to work with the State Board of Elections to integrate agency and voter registration applications. 

This new, single application will serve as both an application for services and a voter registration application. 

Only eligible voters may register, and applications will be transmitted to the State Board of Elections with the signature and consent of the applicant. 

Applicants will also be given the opportunity to choose a political party. Pursuant to changes agreed to by the Legislature, the DMV will come online in 2023, followed by the Department of Health, Department of Labor and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in 2024. 

The State University of New York will come online in 2025. This system will remove yet another barrier to voter participation by making it easy for New Yorkers to register to vote.

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