Citizens Union reaffirms call to make registering to vote online more accessible for New York City residents

Voter Registration
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Citizens Union is renewing its call to make registering to vote online more accessible ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November.

The New York City Campaign Finance Board released new data showing that that half as many New Yorkers had registered to vote in the first six months of 2020 than in the first six months of 2016. In 2020, January and February new voter registrations were up 27 percent compared to 2016, but the COVID-19 has halted the increase.

“The data released last week by the New York City Campaign Finance Board showing that new voter registrations have halved compared to last year underscores the need to immediately allow New Yorkers to register to vote online,” said Citizens Union’s executive director Betsy Gotbaum. “We need to make it easier for new voters to register and vote. This is especially important in a Presidential election year, where many young people are voting for the first time.”

Currently, only New York residents can register to vote online if they have a state-issued ID. According to Citizens Union, this excludes 700,000 New York City residents, including many younger potential voters. COVID-19 has also halted in-person registration, making mail-in registration the only option for many New Yorkers.

While the Campaign Finance Board has developed a system for online voting registration that doesn’t require a photo ID, it was superseded by a state law that won’t go into effect until 2021. A bill that would allow the Campaign Finance Board’s website to go live and accept voter registration applications is currently in the state legislature.

“Given the spike in COVID-19 cases we are seeing in other parts of the country, we cannot assume that in-person voter registration campaigns will be able to occur in New York City anytime soon,” added Gotbaum. “Luckily a solution already exists for New York City. The Legislature should act to pass online voter registration for New York City immediately. If they fail to do so, we urge Governor Cuomo to act via executive order.”