State Representatives and Community Leaders Rally for Voting Reforms

Syracuse — Central New York lawmakers rallied on June 10th  with community leaders and voting rights advocates in support of passing automatic voter registration in New York this legislative session.

While the New York Legislature has passed historic voting reforms – such as early voting and consolidated primaries – that will help break down barriers to voting, advocates are saying these measures still leave out potential voters. With the legislative session ending in just two weeks, voting rights advocates are calling on the Legislature to pass additional critical voting reforms, including automatic voter registration and restoration of voting rights to people on parole.

Christine Wood, organizer at Public Citizen, expressed the need for automatic voter registration to increase voter participation. “In 2018, New York was ranked 48 out of 50 in voter turnout. If enacted, automatic voter registration would register 1.1 million New Yorkers; studies show it’s an effective way of increasing voter participation.”

In Oregon, the first state to implement AVR, 44 percent of the new registrants subsequently voted after implementation. Oregon had the largest turnout increase between 2012 and 2016 of any state. In 2018, it had one of the highest turnout rates in the country.

Onondaga County (New York) Board of Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny spoke on the impact automatic voter registration would have on the reforms New York lawmakers already passed this year.

“Automatic voter registration would supercharge pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, early voting and other reforms passed this year,” he said. “These policies are strongest when they work in concert together.”

New York Sen. Rachel May

New York Sen. Rachel May was vocal in her support for automatic voter registration and reiterated the importance of passing the legislation this year.

“Automatic voter registration is the jewel in the crown of elections reforms. The stage is set for New York to meet the gold standard of democracy reforms, and AVR will get us over the finish line. In the Senate, we have held hearings to learn how to build an effective AVR system and we are eager to put that system in place and get the job done this year.”

The rally was organized by Let NY Vote, a coalition of more than 150 organizations including Public Citizen, Stand Up America and Communications Workers of America.