Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of executive actions designed to expand voter registration in New York.
Executive Order #169 directs state agencies to make voter registration forms available and to offer assistance filling them out.
Under state and federal law, voter registration forms are available at the Department of Motor Vehicles and certain social service agencies.
This order expands the law to require state agencies that interact with the public through professional licensing, recreational activities, and other avenues to also provide registration forms.
Cuomo also directed the DMV to send information about online voter registration in all renewal emails and ordered SUNY and CUNY to conduct a full investigation of their campus voter registration practices.
State law currently requires SUNY and CUNY campuses to provide all students with voter registration forms at the beginning of each school year as well as January of each Presidential election year.
Cuomo hopes that expanding voter registration will help combat low voter participation across the state.
Cuomo also established the State Agency Voter Registration Task Force. The Task Force will explore ways to implement reforms including how to set up secure online voting registration systems.
The Task force will oversee the administration of the state agency voter registration system in consultation with the State Board of Elections.
The order comes after President Trump’s controversial Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, designed to investigate possible voter fraud, requested voter information from all 50 states. The request was denied by state officials from 44 states including New York and the commission has faced harsh criticism from officials who consider the request overreach.
Cuomo has publicly opposed the commission and stated that he believes that the federal government is going to ultimately attempt to restrict voter access.
“It is our responsibility to make it as easy as possible for people to vote because that’s what democracy looks like,” Governor Cuomo said. “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. I am also continuing the fight for legislative reforms, including early voting and same-day registration, that increase access to vote for people throughout this state. Whether you are a student in college or a grandparent living on social security, there should be no artificial barriers to register and take part in the electoral process.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union praised Cuomo’s actions to expand voter registration.
“Voting in New York should be simple, accessible and protected, especially in light of the Trump administration’s push to limit access to the polls,” said Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director. “Governor Cuomo’s actions are a helpful step in what we hope is a wider push to update our archaic voting system. New York also needs measures like early voting, electronic poll books, universal electronic registration and shorter registration deadlines. The Governor and the legislature must ensure these reforms are included in the state budget and that New York’s elections are brought into the 21st century.”