WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – An initiative from Gov. Andrew Cuomo will allow New Yorkers to register to vote online. The initiative eliminates handwritten voter registration forms used at the Department of Motor Vehicles and replaces them with online applications and computer terminals available at the DMV.
"Today, we are knocking down longstanding barriers that have prevented many New Yorkers from participating in the democratic process, while creating a more streamlined and more efficient system that will save taxpayers' money," Cuomo said.
According to the governor's office, New York ranks 47th in voter registration, with less than 64 percent of eligible voters registered to vote. The DMV processes about 300,000 voter registration applications per year, with motor vehicle documents. The governor's office said the process is "prone to human error, delays and, in some cases, to applications not getting processed."
Citizens with a valid New York state driver's license or identification card can register to vote online, using the "MyDMV" website. The secure online account created through the website will be validated through verification of personal information, such as date of birth, Social Security number, address and license document numbers. About 700,000 New Yorkers currently have MyDMV accounts.
At DMV offices, voter registration will be processed through VeriFone computer terminals. The governor's office said that, once the system is fully in place, the terminals will send the voter registration application directly to the respective county board of elections. Signatures from driver's licenses and ID cards will be used in electronic voter registration applications as a replacement for a traditional signature.
Until the system is fully in place, the applications will be sent electronically to the DMV central office in Albany, printed out and mailed to the county boards of elections. Currently, the applications are mailed from 129 individual DMV locations to county boards of elections, where the data are then manually entered into a database.
"Governor Cuomo asked the Department of Motor Vehicles to re-examine how we did business and to find ways to make government more accessible to the public," said DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. "Getting away from paper applications and making use of the technology we are announcing today will improve efficiency, be cost effective, and better serve the people of New York State."
Douglas Colety, Republican Board of Elections Commissioner for Westchester County, could not be reached for comment.