Lifton Introduces Legislation to Encourage Voter Participation While Enhancing Voter List Accuracy

April 24, 2017

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WF-125) announced that she is introducing legislation today to ensure the accuracy of the state’s voter registration list and to improve voter registration and, consequently, voter turnout. The bill would require the state to contract with an external responsible entity that would assist the state in maintaining accurate voter registration lists, as well as require the state to regularly contact state residents who are eligible to vote, but unregistered, to educate them about registering to vote or updating their voter information.

“New York was 42nd on the list of states in terms of turnout in November’s General Election and that is unacceptable. New York should be at the top of the list, not the bottom,” Lifton said. “Having accurate lists and encouraging New Yorkers to register and vote will improve that rating considerably.”

Lifton got the idea for this legislation when she discovered, in October of 2016, that the New York State Board of Elections was testing the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program, a controversial database program, run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, which compares voter registration data across multiple states to identify possible cases of duplicate registration, allowing for the potential of duplicate voting.

“The ostensible purpose of the Crosscheck Program is to identify individuals who could be registered to vote in more than one state, but the program uses a very limited number of data points and the lists it generates are faulty in the extreme. When New York State’s list came back from Kansas, for instance, it had about 400,000 matched names that could be eligible for purging, an astonishingly high number,” said Lifton.

“Fortunately, and not surprisingly, when I contacted them, our State Board of Elections (BOE) was performing due diligence and abiding by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 which requires using many data points to prevent eligible voters from being purged from the voter rolls, and they had narrowed the list of possible purges to 30,000, without having even sent it to the counties for their own due diligence,” Lifton stated. “I have been reassured that no New York voters have been purged under this program. Nonetheless, I urged the State BOE to stop testing Crosscheck and to not participate at any point in the future because of my continued concern about its potential for inappropriate voter purging in other states if they were not as diligent as New York. I’m pleased that the BOE has discontinued this experiment,” Lifton said.

“If enacted, this law would put in place a robust and valid system to produce an accurate voter database with many more New Yorkers registered to vote, both of which are good for our democracy,” concluded Lifton.