NYC Votes Finds New Voter Registrations Plummeted Due to Coronavirus; Releases 2020 Registration Data During Public Hearing


New analysis shows a sharp decline in voter registrations in 2020 compared to 2016, according to the NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB). The voter registration analysis was released at a public hearing of the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee of the Campaign Finance Board on July 1. Over 70 city voters came forward to discuss their experiences during the June 2020 primary election.

New voter registrations in New York City are down by 49 percent in 2020 compared to 2016. From January to June of 2020, 79,777 New Yorkers submitted new registrations. During the previous presidential election cycle in 2016, city voters submitted 155,215 new registrations by June.

New voter registrations also declined by more than 20 percent in the rest of New York state. The data reflects a growing trend around the country suggesting that this decline is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has made it more difficult to host voter registration drives. New York is particularly impacted because it lacks an online voter registration portal that's accessible to all eligible voters.

"In this critical presidential election year, New York deserves an online voter registration system that all voters can access," said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the CFB. "We urge our state leadership to protect our democracy by providing new voters a safe, secure, and accessible way to register to vote."

New York City's youngest voters are the most impacted by this registration decline. There are 90,730 city residents turning 18 in 2020. More than 500,000 people living in NYC between the ages of 18 and 29 are eligible to vote but remain unregistered.

More than 700,000 NYC residents do not have a NYS driver’s license or DMV-ID that would allow them to access the existing voter registration application on the DMV’s website, according to CFB analysis of DMV statistics.

An online voter registration platform was developed by the CFB and ready to go live in June 2019, in accordance with city law. The CFB has offered to work with the state Board of Elections to refine or expand the application for statewide use.

New Yorkers Share Voting Issue Stories

Hundreds of concerned New Yorkers tuned in on Zoom and Facebook Live for a public hearing held last night where voters and voting rights advocates discussed the most widespread issues they faced casting ballots at the polls and voting by mail in the primary election held last month.

More than 70 New Yorkers submitted written testimony or testified during the hearing hosted by the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, which advises the NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its nonpartisan voter engagement initiative, NYC Votes, and recommends legislative and administrative changes to the NYC Board of Elections. All of the testimony will be collected and shared with the NYC Board of Elections.

Among the issues discussed were missing or undelivered absentee ballots, voters who were not provided the full ballot at their poll sites, and other issues that were widely documented online and in the media last month. 

Over 700,000 city voters requested mail-in ballots for the primary election after Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order allowing all eligible voters to request them. The governor and state legislature have not extended universal voting by mail for the presidential election in November.

"State leaders should act immediately to allow all voters to cast their presidential ballots by mail in November should they choose to do so," said Amy Loprest. "There is still a window of time where the problems people faced voting by mail in June may be addressed before November, but that requires clear guidance from state leaders to ensure the Board of Elections can properly prepare."

The CFB's website has been updated with written testimony and a full transcript of the hearing.