While Florida and Pennsylvania Make Voter Registration Harder, New York Makes It Easier Online

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While other states have made registering to vote harder, New York State has actually made it a lot easier
The states of Florida and Pennsylvania have been trying to make it harder to register to vote in 2012. While the former's efforts have been stalled somewhat and the latter's have been upheld in court, New York State has taken the radical step of actually making it a bit easier to register to vote.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo noted in a press release yesterday, New York State has "launched a sweeping new initiative to expand access to voter registration and streamline 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."

The registration site itself, part of the Department of Motor Vehicles website, says:

"The Voter Registration Application allows a user to complete an application to register to vote or to update the information they have on file with the Board of Elections. Updated information could include providing your County Board of Elections with your new name, new address, or changing a party enrollment. Applications completed on this website are forwarded to the appropriate County Board of Elections for approval and processing."

Having recently used the DMV's online services for a different matter recently, we can personally attest that it is shockingly, reliably efficient (and a lot easier than standing in a DMV line for hours).

The DMV website notes that it, like any DMV office you might go into to register to vote in the first place, is not actually registering you to vote. Rather, the site writes:

"Upon completion, your voter registration application is forwarded to your County Board of Elections for processing. DMV DOES NOT APPROVE OR DENY VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS. DMV ONLY SENDS THE APPLICATIONS TO THE COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS FOR THEIR REVIEW."

Registration for the September 13 primary is today, August 17 Sunday, August 19 if you do it online (see update below). The deadline for the November 6 presidential general election is October 12 by mail and October 26 in person at a Board of Elections office.

Currently, we can't find on the DMV or Board of Election websites what the deadline is for online registration. We have reached out to Governor Cuomo's office and will update when we hear back. Update: Governor Cuomo's office called us to tell us that you can register online for the September 13 primary up until this Sunday, August 19 . As for the general election, the DMV mail in date will apply for online registration.

Cuomo's press release says that "New York currently ranks 47th in the nation in voter registration, with less than 64% of eligible residents registered to vote." If you're part of the 36% who aren't registered, you can change that here.

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You can follow staff writer Steven Thrasher on twitter (@steven_thrasher) or reach him by email (sthrasher@villagevoice.com).

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