There are five measures on the Nov. 2 ballot that voters will be asked to weigh in on in New York.
Capital Tonight spoke with various advocates and lawmakers for and against each of the proposals to get a sense of what’s at stake. Here, we examine the third question.
Ballot Question #3: Eliminating Ten-Day-Advance Voter Registration Requirement
The proposed amendment would delete the current requirement in Article II, S 5 that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election and would allow the legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than 10 days before the election. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Both ballot questions #3 and #4 deal with elections. Simply stated, a “yes” vote on either of these questions will expand voting in New York.
Specifically, a “yes” vote on ballot question #3 removes the requirement that a person register to vote at least 10 days before an election.
If it passes, then the Democratically-led state Legislature will be able to pass a law allowing for same-day voter registration.
So, in and of itself, if this question passes in November, nothing will change until the Legislature passes enabling legislation.
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All the good government groups Capital Tonight has spoken with are pushing for passage.
“The 10-day registration requirement is confusing to people, and is not honored in practice,” Common Cause’s Susan Lerner said. “We have a 25-day statutory requirement. Amending our constitution to lift the 10-day is a very strong statement on the part of voters that they want flexibility in registration.”
Again, the arguments from Democrats and Republicans in New York mirror those from members of the parties at the national level on issues like H.R.1.
“I don’t think that a 10-day timeline is so onerous that it’s causing people not to vote. My worry with same-day registration is that it could be open to shenanigans,” New York Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said of his opposition to ballot question #3. “Fraud has been raised, obviously. Without a timeline, it makes it a little easier for someone to register to vote and to change that vote. It’s always more difficult after the fact.”
Same-day voter registration has been a Holy Grail for good government groups for years.
“Automatic voter registration reflects the timeframe within which most people focus on their elections, and that is very close to the elections itself,” Lerner explained.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total of 18 states and Washington D.C. have implemented same-day voter registration. Montana and North Carolina make same-day registration possible during a portion of the early-voting period, but not Election Day. Alaska allows same day voter registration for president and vice president.