New York, NY – With only half the nation currently allowed to register to vote online, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), joined by Melissa del Valle Ortiz, President of the League of Women Voters of the City of New York and Ashton Stewart, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of the City of New York, announced today that she will introduce federal legislation that would modernize the country’s online voter registration system and bring the election process into the 21st century by allowing every eligible voter in the country to register online. Currently, 46.5 percent of eligible voters, or 100 million people, do not have access to online registration, according to estimates from the Congressional Research Service. In 2012, 33 million eligible voters nationwide were not registered to vote, according to the Census Bureau. Gillibrand’s Voter Registration Modernization Act would help expand voting access to millions of Americans by requiring all states to allow eligible voters to register online to vote and update their information electronically, saving states millions of dollars.
Under Gillibrand’s proposal, 23 states without an online registration system would be required to establish one. In the 22 states that already have some form of online registration, which includes New York, Gillibrand’s bill would strengthen those online systems by expanding enrollment access to all eligible voters whether or not they have a state-issued ID. This would allow more young people, seniors, minorities, and low income voters – groups less likely to have state-issued ID’s – to access and update their voter records online.
“Voting is one of our most sacred rights as Americans,” Senator Gillibrand. “Instead of adding new burdens, we should make voting easy for millions of people. Bringing our nation’s antiquated voter registration system into the 21st century is common sense. My legislation will strengthen New York’s efforts to make every vote count. We must ensure that all states have secure online voter registration in order to make every voice heard at the ballot box.”
“At a time when Americans can conduct almost any transaction accurately and quickly online – from signing contracts to paying bills – our election systems should join the 21st Century through online voter registration,” said Melissa del Valle Ortiz, President of the League of Women Voters of the City of New York. “Senator Gillibrand’s bill would accomplish this goal in a fair and effective way and will strengthen New York State’s online voter registration by ensuring every eligible voter in New York City has access to online registration.”
Currently, there are 23 states that do not have any online voter registration system. Less than half the country – 22 states – has some form of online voter registration system, and an additional 5 states have passed legislation creating online registration, which have yet to be implemented.
As of 2012, New York ranked as one of the country’s lowest states in voter registration and voter turnout. The state ranks 47th in the nation in voter registration, with less than 64 percent of eligible residents registered to vote. Only 53.6 percent of eligible New York voters cast their ballots in 2012. That same year, New York State moved to allow voters with a driver’s license or state-issued ID to register to vote online through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Election officials verify voter’s eligibility by checking the individual’s personal information, such as date of birth, social security, address, and license document number.
In an effort to bring the election process into the 21st century and expand online access to millions of voters in New York, and across the nation, Gillibrand’s legislation, called the Voter Registration Modernization Act, would require dozens of states to set up an online registration system on an official public website, led by the state’s chief election official, allowing all eligible voters to register online. States with existing online registration would expand their system beyond those with state-issued IDs to allow more young people, seniors, minorities, and the poor – groups who have a hard time attaining or renewing state-issued IDs – to access and update their own voter records online. Under this proposal, voters who don’t have a signature on file with the DMV would be able to provide an electronic signature. All states, including New York, would be required to establish security measures and would determine the verification process for the new online program.