Lawmakers and advocates on Thursday rallied at the Capitol for a bill that would automatically register people to vote in New York — a measure supporters say is needed to fully engage the public in the political process.
"We need to get those people who are voting eligible, but not registered, on the rolls. There are two million New Yorkers who are eligible to vote, who are citizens of this state, and of this country, who are not registered," said Mike Gianaris (D - Queens).
And the bill would eliminate paperwork for when voters move to another county.
"A lot of families move on a yearly basis for a variety of reasons and this will enable the whole population to participate in our elections. That is so important," said Rachel May (D - Syracuse).
The proposal would work like this: Anytime a potential voter interacts with state government through actions like submitting an application for driver's licenses or a fishing permit, they would be automatically registered to vote. They would have to affirmatively opt out of being registered.
"It's an automatic transfer of information the government already has about you," said Susan Lerner, executive director, Common Cause.
The bill comes after lawmakers approved legislation earlier this year that would create a system of early voting, and unify the party primaries for state and federal elections to one day in June.
"This year, I think we've seen an historic turnaround with a new legislature really dedicated to impactful voting reforms," Lerner said.
The proposal was endorsed on Thursday by the state Board of Elections.