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July 6, 2020
Contact: Jake Oliver, [email protected], (347) 361-9983

New York, N.Y. (July 6, 2020) — Citizens Union has renewed its call to allow New York City residents to register to vote online in advance of the November 2020 election. The good government group responded to data released last week by the New York City Campaign Finance Board showing that half as many New Yorkers had registered to vote in the first six months of 2020 than in the first six months of 2016.

“The data released last week by the New York City Campaign Finance Board showing that new voter registrations have halved compared to last year underscores the need to immediately allow New Yorkers to register to vote online,” said Citizens Union’s executive director Betsy Gotbaum. “We need to make it easier for new voters to register and vote. This is especially important in a Presidential election year, where many young people are voting for the first time.”

For the months of January and February new voter registrations were up 27 percent compared to 2016, the last presidential election year, but COVID-19 brought this momentum to a screeching halt. With the pandemic likely to impact the city through the November election, an alternative to in-person voter registration is needed.

Currently only residents with a state-issued ID can register to vote online. This excludes 700,000 New York City residents, including many younger potential voters. COVID-19 has prevented in-person voter registration from taking place, meaning the only option currently available to the unregistered is printing out a form and mailing it in.

The Campaign Finance Board (CFB) developed a system of online voter registration that does not require a photo ID. Unfortunately, it was superseded by state law that doesn’t go into effect until 2021. There is a bill in the state Legislature that would allow the CFB’s website to go live and accept voter registration applications in New York City.

“Given the spike in COVID-19 cases we are seeing in other parts of the country, we cannot assume that in-person voter registration campaigns will be able to occur in New York City anytime soon,” added Gotbaum. “Luckily a solution already exists for New York City. The Legislature should act to pass online voter registration for New York City immediately. If they fail to do so, we urge Governor Cuomo to act via executive order.”

For follow up, please contact Jake Oliver at Anat Gerstein, Inc. at
[email protected] or 347-361-9983

About Citizens Union
For 120 years, Citizens Union (CU) has been a force for transparency, accountability and ethics in New York’s City and State governments. A nonpartisan organization, some of our current initiatives include increased voter participation and civic engagement, greater police accountability, and an accurate 2020 census. Learn more at

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