Ideas For Increasing Voting Rates

In 2010 only 36 percent of adults voted in New York State. To increse participation in voting, the Voter Empowerment Act of New York has been introduced in the New York State Legislature. If enacted the legislation will:

• Allow citizens to register to vote at more government agencies.
• Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register as a way to build interest for when they will be eligible to vote at 18.
• Allow registration over the Internet.
• Allow a voter to enroll in a party or change parties in within a 10-day process, rather than 13 months.
• Computerize the registration process, much of which still relies on paper contributing to outdated, duplicated and inaccurate voter rolls.
• Automatically transfer voter registrations of New Yorkers when they move into the state.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the Voter Empowerment Act of New York was modeled after the Voter Empowerment Act introduced in the United States House of Representatives. Parts of these measures have been implemented successfully in multiple states across the country, including Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Washington. When signed into law, the Voter Empowerment Act of New York would be the most comprehensive state plan implemented to modernize the voter registration system.

What do you think about these ideas to increase voting?

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Corey McCarren

I don’t know if the 16-17 year old registration is going to make that much difference, but the other things I like. Actually I would be concerned that if someone registered when they were 16 they’d be less hyped about it when they can vote because they won’t be also registering for the first time.

William Lim

Another idea to increase voter turnout is to increase the availability of early voting or voting by mail (either by removing barriers to obtaining an absentee ballot or by increasing the eligibility to obtain one). In New Jersey, once you’ve registered with the county to obtain a vote by mail ballot, you can opt to receive ballots by mail automatically for all future elections, no absentee reasons necessary.