v. Andrew Cuomo has announced a new initiative that has shown great promise in getting eligible people to register to vote. The Department of Motor Vehicles now offers online registration, and it apparently is working.
New York is a woeful 47th in voter registration, with only 64 percent of people qualified to vote registered to do so. How could anyone account for that? Our elections are as interesting as they are in any state. This year, we have a contentious presidential election to anchor voter participation. Yet, 36 eligible voters out of 100 don’t even bother to register.
New Yorkers aren’t known to be less intelligent or less involved politically or more apathetic than people in other states. Yet the numbers show we do not embrace the responsibility to vote with the same enthusiasm as residents of almost every other state in the nation.
Cuomo, responding to those realities, has established the online registration procedure, and it has shown early results. As of Aug. 27, 3,474 New Yorkers had used the device to register. That includes 1,028 first-time voters, which is something of a breakthrough. The program was unveiled Aug. 15.
According to a news release from the Governor’s Office, the initiative “streamlines DMV services by allowing New Yorkers — for the first time ever — to apply to register to vote or update their address or party enrollment through a secure online site. ... This new initiative is breaking down barriers that have for decades kept New Yorkers from having a voice in their government.”
The website can be found at https://my.dmv.ny.gov/crm/ and can be used by any New Yorker with a driver’s license or non-driver ID.
The new system replaces paper forms and is designed to help centralize the digital transmission of voter-registration applications and save more than $270,000 a year.
Up until now, though, the tricky part has not been getting eligibles to register but to actually show up on Election Day. Efforts by local political parties to register college students have previously been misleadingly successful in collecting signatures on forms. Unfortunately, they haven’t been converted into appearances in the voting booths and have been largely abandoned.
We applaud the governor for this important first step. Let’s hope he can claim equally notable credit in the even more important Step 2.