Today is National Voter Registration Day, the day various U.S. organizations and businesses help citizens get registered so they can participate in arguably the most important American tradition. Unfortunately here in New York, we still have much work to do to help more citizens embrace that tradition.
As New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer outlined in a 2016 report, New York is one of the hardest states to vote in and one of the hardest to get registered. New York “is one of only a handful of states to lack alternative poll access (early voting/no-excuse absentee voting/voting by mail), expedited registration (same-day or electronic registration), and increased primary access (open primaries, extended deadlines for party registration),” Stringer wrote.
These barriers to voting, understandably, have contributed to low turnout in almost all New York elections, especially in NYC. During this year’s NYC primary, only 14 percent of the city's registered Democrats voted, making it the second least-attended primary in modern history. During the 2016 presidential election, just 56 percent of eligible NYC voters turned out. And during the 2014 gubernatorial election, only 25 percent of registered voters in New York City participated.
Stringer suggests that there are many reasonable ways to improve voter turnout. For example, New York could implement early voting, allow for same-day registration on voting day, let every New Yorker register online, or give people more time to change party affiliation so they can vote in primaries. Alas, those changes have yet to be implemented.
And so today, we ask that New Yorkers get registered and take their duty seriously. If you have a New York State driver's license, driver's permit, or an NYC ID card, you can register online right now. If you do not have an eligible New York ID, you must fill out a paper form and send it in the mail before October 13. And if you're not sure if you're registered, you can check here.
Today we will be working alongside some of our member companies including AppNexus, Foursquare, IssueVoter, Microsoft, WeWork, and others to help register New Yorkers to vote. We are proud that the tech community here is standing up to help New Yorkers get counted.
One final note: If you want to have your voice heard in both the upcoming mayoral race in November and in the primaries in mid-2018, you must be registered for a corresponding political party before October 13, 2017. Many New Yorkers who wanted to vote in last year's primaries could not because they were not registered for the right party seven months in advance, including President Trump's children. Make sure you are registered for a party if you want to vote in the primaries.
We hope to see you at the polls on November 7 and beyond!