Gov. Andrew Cuomo's initiative to increase the number of people registered to vote should work, judging by the record in other states.
New Yorkers will be able to apply to register to vote or to update their address or party enrollment online - an upgrading of the motor-voter program that enables people to register to vote by filing paper applications through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The process will be available to people who have already proved their identity by getting a driver's license of non-driver ID - which the governor's office describes as a rigorous, in-person identity proofing process at a DMV office.
For people who do not have computers, every DMV office in the state will have a special electronic terminal through which people can apply to register to vote. These electronic terminals will also be able to handle credit card transactions for DMV business - which makes us wonder whether the state will share the revenue from those transactions with the county in which they originate, or whether this is another way to siphon all of the money to Albany.
But that's a topic for another day.
Figures from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law indicate that more people do, indeed, register to vote when an online and automated system is introduced. DMV voter registration nearly doubled in Washington state and Kansas, and increased seven-fold in South Dakota, the Brennan Center reported. In Arizona, young and minority voters were disproportionately apt to use the online registration system. And, yes, the new registration system in New York will be offered in Spanish.
The Citizens Union and the League of Women Voters have applauded the new online voter registration system as being a greater convenience as well as demonstrably more accurate than the paper-based motor-voter system.
As we said, the initiative to increase the number of registered voters in New York should work.
However, before declaring the whole thing a resounding success, we await studies showing whether the increased number of people registered to vote translates into an increase in the number of people who actually do.