NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signs bill to make voting easier

NYC to expand online voter registration

New York City will be joining a growing list of governments offering online voter registration for its citizens.

Legislation passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio tasks the city with building an “online portal and mobile application where voters can submit registration information or submit updates to their registrations,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office. With the portal or app, residents could enter their information, which would then be printed onto a registration form -- accompanied by an electronic signature -- and delivered to the city Board of Elections.

New York state has an online voter registration portal through the Department of Motor Vehicles website. Registration through the DMV site requires both a New York DMV-issued ID and a Social Security number. Many New York City residents, however, don’t have drivers licenses and so have been unable to register online. The state Board of Elections estimated there are 700,000-plus eligible voters who are not registered, with more turning 18 years of age each year, according to a report in Gotham Gazette.   A city official told GCN the NYC legislation is intended to serve that population that the DMV program can't reach.

In addition to requiring online and mobile apps for voters to submit their information, the new law requires the city’s Campaign Finance Board to provide voters with a mechanism for an electronic signature on the voter registration form. It would also allow CFB to use signatures already provided to other city agencies, including IDNYC, the city’s municipal photo identification for residents.  After voters submit the information online, CFB would print the information onto a voter registration form with an electronically affixed signature and then deliver the printed voter registration form to the New York City Board of Elections.  The bill takes effect in 18 months.

There are 37 states plus the District of Columbia that have online registration systems, according to the National Conference for State Legislators. Arizona was the earliest adopter, passing legislation to create an online system in 2002, but it’s becoming more common, with 16 states making the decision since 2015.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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