New York

Although the Empire State has a reputation as a progressive state, New York’s voting laws have been quite restrictive. However, New York Democrats took total control of the state government in 2018 and made implementing pro-voter, pro-democracy policies their first priority. 

Democratic lawmakers were able to pass a bill that introduces sweeping improvements to New York’s voting laws. The new act (S1102) establishes early voting and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and provides initial authorization to constitution amendments to establish same-day registration and no-excuse-absentee voting that includes early voting. Those proposed constitutional amendments will need to be approved by voters in the future. This package was a huge win for voting rights.

New York also came close to passing automatic voter registration (S6457), but the measure fell short in the final day of this session. Dem lawmakers have affirmed that establishing automatic voter registration will be a legislative priority next session. If the bill is passed next session, automatic voter registration will come to New York in 2021 – the same year it would have been introduced had the bill passed this session.

Other pro-voting rights bills were introduced this session that did not advance, including preventing illegal voter roll purges (A3334S2301), restoring voting rights to individuals with felony convictions (A4987S1931), improving election security (S308), establishing no-excuse-absentee voting and permanent absentee voter status (S699A4505), providing time off for voters who work on Election Day to cast their ballot (S6278), lowering the voting age to 16 and providing students with voter registration information (S2273A3339), and other omnibus bills to further expand voting rights (S4299S4821A4823). We look forward to New York lawmakers continuing to push for the right to vote for New Yorkers. 

However, New York is not immune from Republican attempts to suppress the vote as New York GOP lawmakers introduced restrictive voter ID laws this session (A6105S2091). Voting rights champions need to be prepared to fight against anti-voter laws in all states.