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."

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State Government Sets the Stage for Police Oversight Showdown

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Despite the fact that NYPD is one of the largest police forces in the country, neither the city nor state governments currently exercise any significant oversight over the police department.

Now, a new bill introduced in the state legislature aims to change that, by creating an inspector general office to oversee the police department, a practice that is common in many other large cities. The New York Civil Liberties Union, anti-stop-and-frisk groups, and Muslim advocacy centers have all called for the appointment of an inspector general in the past.

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Emergency Alert System Test to Ruin TV for 30 Whole Seconds Today

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Don't forget, as Nick explained this weekend, that today brings something unprecedented and horrifying in the wake of yesterday's asteroid, which didn't hit us, whew, though we were forced to hide out in a dark, underground bar all night just in case. Today at 2 p.m., the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, conducted jointly by the FCC, FEMA, Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service, will occur. We are on pins and needles.

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Hackathon Brings Together Techies To Help The City

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Esther Zuckerman
When we walked into General Assembly's office in the Flatiron District around 3 p.m. Sunday, most people in the room were hunched over their laptop screens, most of which were Macs. It was nearing the end of the "Reinvent NYC.gov" hackathon, an event sponsored by the city in which web developers and designers from all over the country and even Canada came to re-imagine parts or the whole of the city's website.

"This is civic participation in the digital age," said Matthew Brimer, co-founder of General Assembly, the "campus" for tech entrepreneurs which co-produced the two-day hackathon.

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First Same-Sex Couples Wed in New York City

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Steven Thrasher
Michael Furey and Bienvenido Amagna, the first same-sex couple to wed in Brooklyn.
Today's the day! Same-sex marriage is officially legal in New York State, and the weddings are rolling along. The first couple married in New York City was Phyllis Siegal and Connie Kopelov, who exchanged wedding vows at 9 a.m. today at the City Clerk's office in Lower Manhattan. Our Zoe So just witnessed the first gay couple married in Queens, 33-year-old Shane Serkiz and Gregory Levine, 32, both teachers who live in Astoria. Intern Esther is live in Staten Island, where the first couple to get hitched were Bedila Sanchez and Lavern Rivera, together for 21 years. Esther and Zoe, plus my colleagues Steven Thrasher, Jen Doll, and Harry Siegel, are reporting on the first day of same-sex marriages across the boroughs, so follow them on Twitter for updates. Here's Steven's video of the first gay marriage in Brooklyn, of Michael Furey and Bienvenido Amagna:

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Governor Andrew Cuomo Declares July 24 "Day to Commemorate Marriage Equality"

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With the first few same-sex marriages underway, stretch Escalade limousines and rainbow colored waterfalls and all, Governor Cuomo has issued a proclamation declaring July 24, 2011 the Day to Commemorate Marriage Equality.

Full text after the jump.

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Same-Sex Marriage Is Now Officially Legal in New York State [Breaking]

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Goodbye to this graphic, retiring today. We'll miss you! (Not really.)
Happy Same-Sex Sunday! As of this moment, same-sex marriage is legal in New York State. Right about now Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd just said "I do!" in front of Niagara Falls. In the next 24 hours, the City of New York expects to break the record for weddings in a single day, planning to join over 800 couples in civil marriage. If you're still reading this, Armageddon has not yet befallen the Empire State, even though Westboro Baptist Church warned that, "For their defiance of their Lord, New Yorkers will suffer the wrath of God being poured out on them from the sky." (As our favorite commentor of the week put it, we "cant wait for wrath to pour from the sky in the form of cold air. It's frickin' hot!!!!")

To mark this historic occasion, your Village Voice - Runnin' Scared team will be covering the scenes from all five boroughs, where Marriage Bureaus will be open. For the latest on both protests and marital bliss, follow Rosie Gray, Jen Doll, Harry Siegel, Esther Zuckerman, Zoe So and yours truly on Twitter. There's been a lot of sad news this weekend. But despite any haters, we're looking forward to a great deal of good news and happiness we can report on today for a change, right here from New York City, the greatest city in the greatest state in the world.

Stay tuned!

Update: Kitty and Cheryle have officially been named wife and wife by the State of New York.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com | @steven_thrasher

BREAKING: City Vows to Marry Every Couple on Sunday Who Entered Wedding Lottery

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823 couples just won a different kind of New York Lottery
Well, 59 extra couples are going to be very happy this Sunday!

When New York City recently received a whopping 2,600 marriage license requests, with over half of those indicating they wanted to wed this Sunday (the first day of legal same-sex marriage) they started a lottery to determine who would be one of the 764 couples they could accomodate. The lottery was open from noon Tuesday until noon today, and 823 couples applied. This evening, the city said they're going to accomodate the extra 59 couples and wed each and every one, according to The Advocate.

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Executions Are Slightly Less Popular These Days

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The world is slightly less into killing people, according to Amnesty International -- or at least, less into killing people by way of official state execution. Approximately 527 people were executed last year around the world, which represents a decrease from the 714 executed the previous year. In terms of scope, however, 23 countries executed people, which is four more than the year before. China is kind of a wild card in this scenario, as they keep their executions quiet, and are believed to have killed "thousands more."

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19th Amendment Anniversary Happy Birthday, Whatever You Are!

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Ha. A search on Google Trends shows that the 19th Amendment is being searched more than any other term right now. That's because it's the 19th Amendment's 90th birthday! And people don't remember what it is. Though...how would they know it's the 19th Amendment's birthday?

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