As Andrew Cuomo said, “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,” On December 22, 2020 the Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, signed the New York Automatic Voter Registration Act which was initiated during Cuomo’s 100-Day Justice Agenda. The goal of this new law is to help increase voter registration, while simultaneously minimizing the administrative barriers in order to process voter registration applications. This new modernized system will also achieve a more efficient process for New Yorkers at designated agencies to register to vote. Additionally, this historic new law will allow for eight days of early voting before an election, synchronize federal and state primary elections, allow voter preregistration for teenagers, provide voter registration portability within the state, and close the LLC loophole. Many have approved as well as endorsed this reform. For example, 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.” In addition, Senate Majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, also touched on the subject. She praised Governor Cuomo as she says, “Voting access is one of the core foundations of our democracy. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that no New Yorkers feel pressured to put their health and well-being at risk to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. I thank the bill sponsors for advancing this legislation, and my Senate Democratic Majority colleagues for their ongoing commitment to empower New York voters and Governor Cuomo for signing these bills.”
In addition, , the New York Automatic Voter Registration Act gives voters the right to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness to themselves or others. Senator Alesandra Biaggi shares her agreement of this new voting reform through her statement of approval. To illustrate, the Senator says, “COVID has upended every aspect of our lives — but we cannot allow it to undermine our democracy and New Yorkers’ sacred right to vote. I introduced S8015D to ensure that no New Yorker will have to choose between their health and fulfilling their civic responsibility. Unfortunately, during the June election too many New Yorkers had to make that very choice because they did not receive their ballots on time. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing my bill to provide every New Yorker with the assurance that they can vote via absentee ballot come November and to give the Board of Elections the time they need to prepare. I also want to extend my gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and my colleagues in the Legislature for their partnership and commitment to protecting our democracy.” Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte furthers this point later by concluding, “The legislation the governor is signing today will ensure that New Yorkers’ right to participate in the electoral process is protected. We saw unprecedented absentee voter turnout during the primary, but because of financial challenges at the United States Postal Service, many ballots did not receive timely postmarks. We must rise to the occasion and make sure that voters across the state can safely and effectively cast their votes. This legislation will help to address problems with the Post Office, by ensuring that absentee ballots that do not receive a postmark are considered timely if they are received by the Board of Elections the day after an election. This protects the integrity of votes and enfranchises the voter. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting New Yorkers by ensuring that their constitutional right to vote is protected.” In conclusion, the Automatic Voter Registration Act was a huge success. It has allowed for every single New Yorker to share their voice, as well as their opinion. It has protected not only the first amendment, but our democracy as a whole.