Provides for the provision of voter registration forms to students by colleges, universities and public school districts; authorizes the pre-registration to vote of 16 year olds.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to voter registration and enrollment
PURPOSE: Improves access to voter registration materials and information for high school and college students.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends § 5-211 of the election law to add a new subdivision 18 requiring all colleges, universities and public high schools to make voter registration forms available to eligible students within 3 weeks of their arrival on campus, designate a location for distribution of and assistance with such forms, and to submit any forms collected to the local board of elections.
Section 2 amends § 5-211 of the election law to add public school districts, colleges and universities to the list of agencies and offices subject to the provisions of Motor Voter, with duties and obligations set forth in subdivision 18.
Section 3 amends subdivision 8 of § 5-211 of the election law to add public school districts, colleges and universities to the list of agencies and offices subject to the provisions of Motor Voter, with duties and obligations set forth in subdivision 18.
Section 4 provides that an applicant who submits a applicant to register to vote must be at least 17 years of age at the time of submission. (Under current law, such applicant may be 17 only if he or she will be turning 18 within the same calendar year.) A registered voter's eligibility to cast a ballot will continue to commence on the voter's 18th birthday.
Section 5 provides an effective date of July 1, 2010 for college and universities, and July 1, 2011 for public school districts.
JUSTIFICATION: According to the results of an extensive study conducted by my office of colleges in New York State, both public and private institutions are remiss of Federal Law which requires them to make voter registration forms readily accessible to enrolled students.
The report, Youth At the Polls: A Survey of Voter Registration at NYS Colleges, surveyed over 60 schools across the state. under a 1998 Amendment of the Higher Education Act, all colleges in good faith are required to provide voter registration forms to students physically on campus before the state's deadline for federal and gubernatorial elections. New York State election law also requires every public college and university (SUNY CUNY) to provide voter registration forms to every student at the start of each academic year and in January of presidential election years.
Despite the state and federal mandate, a quarter of public schools surveyed were not equipped to register students to vote, and 90% failed to send students voter registration materials in the mail. Of private schools, only 50% made voter registration materials available on campus, and 0% offered information via a posting.
This bill would clarify the means by which colleges and universities must satisfy their existing obligation to make voter registration materials available to their students.
Expanding the law will allow us to enroll more voters while they are still students in the public education system, thereby increasing the likelihood of civic engagement and strengthening our democracy. This bill is put forth in the memory of the late Dr. Ray Seidelman, who taught, mentored, and engaged students in Politics at Sarah Lawrence College for over twenty-five years. Sharing his belief in the electoral process and grass roots democracy, he inspired his students to actively participate in elections at all levels. Dr. Seidelman's definition of democracy, "Democracy is not what we have, it is what we aspire to be. So dare to aspire to it, for in the process you become a democratic citizen. It takes courage to live as a democratic citizen, and that's why we fight for it; this will involve you in great risks, but it's worth it because it will make you free." Ray believed in the intrinsic value of political participation, for what it brings into being within and between people joined in the struggle to create a slightly more human life by pursuing justice, freedom, equality, and democracy. He is known as a teacher linking theory with practice, intellectual development with public-service learning, and political theory with the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2008 - S.6169A - Referred to Elections 2009 - S.1872C - Referred to Elections
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the state.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect July 1, 2011; provided, however ,that the provisions of this act shall only apply to school districts on and after July 1, 2012.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 542 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. KLEIN, BRESLIN, DIAZ, DILAN, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HUNT- LEY, KRUEGER, MONTGOMERY, OPPENHEIMER, SAMPSON, STAVISKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to voter registration and enrollment THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 5-211 of the election law is amended by adding a new subdivision 18 to read as follows: 18. ALL COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES AND PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS LOCATED IN THIS STATE SHALL MAKE VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS AVAILABLE TO ANY ELIGIBLE STUDENTS IN THE SAME MANNER AND SUBJECT TO THE SAME PROVISIONS AND RULES AND REGULATIONS AS ALL OTHER DESIGNATED AGENCIES; EXCEPT THAT A COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OR PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO COLLECT OR MAINTAIN FORMS CONTAINING AN INDIVIDUAL'S DECLINATION TO REGISTER TO VOTE AS REQUIRED BY SUBDIVISION TEN OF THIS SECTION, OR TO CONDUCT A STUDY AND REPORT THEREON AS REQUIRED BY SUBDIVISION SEVENTEEN OF THIS SECTION. EACH COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY AND PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL SHALL PROVIDE EACH ELIGIBLE STUDENT WITH A REGISTRATION FORM WITHIN THE FIRST THREE WEEKS OF SUCH STUDENT'S ENTRY TO SCHOOL OR ARRIVAL ON CAMPUS PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISIONS TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SEVEN, NINE, ELEVEN, TWELVE AND FIFTEEN OF THIS SECTION. EVERY COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY AND PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL SHALL DESIGNATE AT LEAST ONE CONVENIENTLY LOCATED OFFICE WHERE STUDENTS MAY RECEIVE VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS AND PERSONAL ASSISTANCE IN THE COMPLETION OF SUCH FORMS. EACH SUCH OFFICE SHALL PUBLICIZE ITS VOTER REGISTRATION SERVICES PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF THIS SECTION, AND SHALL OFFER TO COLLECT AND TRANSMIT COMPLETED VOTER REGISTRATION FORMSEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00647-02-1 S. 542 2
FROM STUDENTS TO THE LOCAL BOARD OF ELECTIONS PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISIONS TWO, THREE, FIVE, NINE, ELEVEN, TWELVE AND FIFTEEN OF THIS SECTION. ANY COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OR SCHOOL DISTRICT MAY ELECT TO SOLICIT ONE OR MORE RECOGNIZED NON-PARTISAN CAMPUS BASED ORGANIZATIONS OR STUDENT GROUPS TO ASSIST IN ITS EFFORTS TO OFFER PERSONAL ASSISTANCE, COLLECTION AND TRANSMITTAL OF VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS. IN ADDITION TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF SUBDIVISIONS TWO, FIVE AND EIGHT OF THIS SECTION, ALL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES OFFERING VOTER REGISTRATION SERVICES SHALL INFORM STUDENTS OF THEIR RIGHT TO COMPLETE A VOTER REGIS- TRATION FORM FROM THEIR COLLEGE OR PREVIOUS ADDRESS; INFORM STUDENTS THAT THEIR DECISION TO REGISTER OR DECLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE SHALL HAVE NO BEARING ON THEIR COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY RECORD; AND NOTWITHSTAND- ING THE PROVISIONS OF SUBDIVISION NINE OF THIS SECTION, SHALL NOT INQUIRE OR KEEP RECORDS PERTAINING TO ANY STUDENT'S ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE. IN ADDITION TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF THIS SECTION, ALL COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS SHALL PLACE A PROMINENT LINK ON THEIR INTERNET HOMEPAGE TO THE APPROPRIATE PAGE OF THE INTERNET WEBSITE OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS TO LEARN ABOUT THE QUALIFICATIONS TO VOTE, AND TO DOWNLOAD A VOTER REGISTRATION FORM, EXCEPT THAT FOR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK AND FOR THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK SUCH LINK SHALL BE TO THE APPROPRIATE PAGE OF THE INTERNET WEBSITE OF THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS. THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND, IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHALL OFFER COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE CODED VOTER REGISTRATION APPLI- CATIONS THAT IDENTIFY EACH SUCH APPLICATION AS ORIGINATING FROM EITHER A COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OR PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL. IF A COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OR SCHOOL DISTRICT ELECTS TO USE CODED VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS, IT SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM ALL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION. THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHALL MAKE AVAILABLE AND PROVIDE FOR THE DELIV- ERY OF SUCH CODED APPLICATIONS TO ANY COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OR SCHOOL DISTRICT WITHIN THE STATE WHICH SUBMITS A REQUEST THEREFOR. EVERY BOARD OF ELECTIONS SCANNING VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS SHALL CAPTURE ANY DESIGNATED AGENCY CODES THEREON AND REPORT THEM ON A MONTHLY BASIS TO THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS. S 2. The opening paragraph of section 5-211 of the election law, as amended by chapter 200 of the laws of 1996, is amended to read as follows: Each agency designated as a participating agency under the provisions of this section, AND COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY AND SCHOOL DISTRICT, shall implement and administer a program of distribution of voter registration forms pursuant to the provisions of this section. The following offices which provide public assistance and/or provide state funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities are hereby designated as voter registration agencies: designated as the state agencies which provide public assistance are the department of
[social services]FAMILY ASSISTANCE and the department of health. Also designated as public assistance agencies are all agencies of local government that provide such assistance. Designated as state agencies that provide programs primarily engaged in providing services to people with disabilities are the department of labor, office for the aging, division of veterans' affairs, office of mental health, office of voca- tional and educational services for individuals with disabilities, commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled, office [of mental retardation and]FOR PEOPLE WITH developmental disabilities,S. 542 3
commission for the blind and visually handicapped, office of alcoholism and substance abuse services, the office of the advocate for the disa- bled and all offices which administer programs established or funded by such agencies. Additional state agencies designated as voter registra- tion offices are the department of state and the division of workers' compensation. Such agencies shall be required to offer voter registra- tion forms to persons upon initial application for services, renewal or recertification for services and change of address relating to such services. Such agencies shall also be responsible for providing assist- ance to applicants in completing voter registration forms, receiving and transmitting the completed application form from all applicants who wish to have such form transmitted to the appropriate board of elections. The state board of elections shall, together with representatives of the department of defense, develop and implement procedures for including recruitment offices of the armed forces of the United States as voter registration offices when such offices are so designated by federal law. The state board shall also make request of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service to include applications for registration by mail with any materials which are given to new citizens.
[All insti- tutions of the state university of New York and the city university of New York, shall, at the beginning of the school year, and again in Janu- ary of a year in which the president of the United States is to be elected, provide an application for registration to each student in each such institution.]The state board of elections may, by regulation, grant a waiver from any or all of the requirements of this section to any office or program of an agency, COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OR SCHOOL DISTRICT, if it determines that it is not feasible for such office or program to administer such requirement. S 3. The opening paragraph of subdivision 8 of section 5-211 of the election law, as amended by chapter 659 of the laws of 1994, is amended to read as follows: Each participating agency, department, division or office that makes available voter registration forms pursuant to this section shall offer with each application for the services or assistance of such agency, department, division or office and with each recertification, renewal or change of address form relating to such service or assistance, a regis- tration form together with instructions relating to eligibility to register and for completing the form, except that COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS SHALL DISTRIBUTE VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBDIVISION EIGHTEEN OF THIS SECTION, AND forms used by the department of [social services]FAMILY ASSISTANCE for the initial application for services, renewal or recertification for services and change of address relating to such services shall physically incorporate a voter registration application in a fashion that permits the voter registration portion of the agency form to be detached therefrom. Such voter registration application shall be designed so as to ensure the confidentiality of the source of the application. Included on each participating agency's application for services or assistance or on a separate form shall be: S 4. Paragraph (g) of subdivision 5 of section 5-210 of the election law, as amended by chapter 179 of the laws of 2005, is amended to read as follows: (g) Notice that the applicant must be a citizen of the United States, is [or will be at least eighteen years old not later than December thir- ty-first of the calendar year in which he or she registers]AT LEASTS. 542 4
SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD WHEN HE OR SHE SUBMITS AN APPLICATION TO REGISTER TO VOTE and a resident of the county or city to which application is made. S 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2011; provided, however, that the provisions of this act shall only apply to school districts on and after July 1, 2012.