Capitol Notes

COVID-19 drives down new voter registrations

Political enthusiasm and engagement was high heading into 2020, but the pandemic has kept this energy from translating into as many new voter registrations as expected, according to an analysis of voter data by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“In the first 10 weeks of this year (there were) significant increases in voter registrations over 2016. However once the pandemic hit, around the time the governor declared a state of emergency …. we saw a precipitous drop in voter registration that  has really continued up until the most recent data that we have available,” NYCLU’s Perry Grossman told The Capitol Pressroom.

The full interview is available below.

Grossman said new registrations in New York are off by about 30 percent this year compared to 2016, with a 56 percent decline in New York City. “That is gigantic when you consider that we should be way up this year in terms of new voter registrations. Certainly we were on trend to be way up before the pandemic hit,” he said.

The decline is due in large part to the lack of mass gatherings, such as traditional high school graduations and community events, where organizations like the League of Women Voters try to enroll new voters. Additionally, New Yorkers have had less contact with state and county agencies that are responsible for enrolling many new voters.

Grossman hopes that the New Yorkers who would have ordinarily gotten registered this year will be captured in the near future, and aren’t delayed by many years. An online voter registration system that doesn’t require a New York identification card would help catch these people, he said.

“Will these people ever be registered voters? Probably,” he said. “Will they be registered voters in 2020, when we’re facing absolutely critical elections? … That’s really in doubt right now.”

The Capitol Pressroom · July 7, 2020: Despite enthusiasm, COVID-19 drives down new voter registrations
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