In the hopes of boosting voter participation rates and connecting more New Yorkers towards the electoral process, Governor Cuomo yesterday announced a new program that will, for the first time ever, allow anyone to apply to register to vote online. This also includes updating their current address or party enrollment.
By bridging the digital divide, this new program will no doubt expand access to individuals who might not have known where to register, while making it more efficient that will save taxpayers’ money. Cost savings for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) alone are estimated to be at least $270,000 annually, with additional savings for the county boards of elections once their software has been programmed to accept electronically the voter registration applications, which could net at least another $150,000 annually.
No more rushing towards the DMV or filing out needless paperwork that inundates government agencies with time-consuming administration.
Regardless of your political affiliation, no one can deny that New York can do better when it comes to getting people to the voting booths. In fact, New York ranks 47th in the nation in voter registration, with less than 64% of eligible residents registered to vote.
We can increase voter turnout right away, as new voters can cast ballots in next month’s primaries if they register and enroll in a party online by this Sunday.
This new program will ensure that persons with a driver’s license or non-driver’s ID seeking to register, or update their address or party enrollment information, can do so in two ways:
1. Online, through DMV’s “MyDMV” Website. By going to https://my.dmv.ny.gov, MyDMV will simply require users to create a secure online account that is validated through the verification of personal information, such as date of birth, social security number, address, and license document number. Applicants must have a valid New York State license or identification card to qualify, which are issued after a rigorous, in-person identity proofing process at a DMV office. More than 700,000 New Yorkers currently have a MyDMV account and that number is growing daily.
2. New computerized electronic data entry (or VeriFone) devices at each DMV location. In every DMV office, new electronic terminals will allow registrants to apply to register to vote or update their registration information themselves electronically without completing any paper forms. These transactions will be overseen by DMV representatives and are subject to the same security standards as the current system. The devices are also equipped to handle credit card transactions for DMV business.
These new applications will include a digital copy of a voter's "wet" signature that drivers provide to the DMV when they are issued a license or non-driver ID. The signature transmitted to the county BOE is the same signature that appears on their DMV-issued license.
3. Breaking Down Language Barriers. Finally, the state will now make it easier for those individuals who do not speak English as a primary language. The DMV will now make its driver license application form available online and in its New York City offices in Chinese, Korean, and Bengali. Previously, the application had been available in Spanish only.