Online Voter Registration Bill Introduced by City Council Member Ben Kallos


Online Voter Registration Bill Introduced by City Council Member Ben Kallos

Bill would remove barriers to registration


New York, NY– Intro 508 to allow New York City residents to register online was introduced today by Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and Progressive Caucus Members Co-Chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards, as well as Council Members Danny Dromm, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Stephen Levin, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Debi Rose, and Carlos Menchaca. The bill requires the Board of Elections to provide a secure website for registration. Twenty four States offer online voter registration in some form, many with a fully paperless process that can be submitted directly online. New York City consistently struggles with voter participation and turnout.


In August 2012, Governor Cuomo allowed New Yorkers to register to vote through the DMV website, but it requires a New York State DMV Identification and other information that paper registration does not. Additionally, according to the Brennan Center, paperwork often gets lost between the DMV and Board of Elections. The new system would expand online registration by allowing all eligible New York City residents to register online through the Board of Elections.


States that allow online voter registration have saved nearly all of their processing fees—with the cost going from 83 cents to 3 cents per voter in Arizona.


“Democracy should be a click away. We are used to filling out forms online and receiving instant confirmation-- and voter registration should be no different,” said Council Member Kallos, a longtime voting rights activist and software developer. “Barriers to registration must be removed so that anyone who is eligible to register can do so easily.”


“In 2014 voter enfranchisement continues to be an important issue as legislators and advocates grapple with the growing challenge of engaging the public,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, a Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Today’s online voter registration bill expands on Governor Cuomo’s initial effort by allowing future voters to register directly with the Board of Elections, thereby simplifying the process and increasing voter participation. I anticipate that this legislation will encourage civic engagement and finally introduce the registration process to the 21st century.”


“In the Dominican Republic, everyone becomes automatically registered to vote when they turn 18.  Yet in New York, you have to go out of your way to register.  Online registration will make voting easier and more accessible, to ensure that everyone can access their right to participate,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, a Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.


“Online voter registration is important for democracy,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Queens). “Council Member Kallos’ legislation will replace our current process with a secure online registration page.  Voters will no longer have to print out a paper registration and mail it by snail mail to the Board of Elections or sign up through the DMV.  By making the process easier, I believe more people will want to sign up and vote.  That's good for democracy!”


"The ability to vote is the bedrock of our democracy and we should give New Yorkers every opportunity to register to vote. I am proud to support this bill and thank Council Member Kallos for introducing this important legislation,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.


"I wholeheartedly support the Online Voter Registration Bill. The right to vote is an important right we must make as accessible as possible. A true, healthy democracy should have a more than 10 percent of its electorate voting. The Online Voter Registration law will help in this process by making it easier for eligible persons to register to vote – or update their voter registration information – online. It also will finally bring our voter registration system into the 21st Century,” said Council Member Debi Rose.


"Online voter registration for NYC is an idea whose time has come" said Neal Rosenstein, Government Reform Coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group, NYPIRG.  "New Yorker across the state with drivers licenses can already register online through the DMV.  It's time for city residents, subway and bus riders to be able to do the same," he added.  


The measure follows legislation introduced by Assembly Member Jonathan Bing in 2008, when Council Member Kallos was Chief of Staff to the Assembly Member.