Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the state’s voter registration deadline by calling for several changes to increase voter registration and turnout. In addition to a plea that the federal government clear the current backlog of pending citizenship applications before Election Day and extend the registration deadline for new citizens, de Blasio highlighted local measures that have improved access for New Yorkers, and called on the state to pass several reforms, including some promoted by FairVote.
Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year olds and ballot usability testing are FairVote reforms included by the Mayor along with several others to modernize registration and make voting easier. These are welcome changes, and de Blasio should be applauded, especially given New York’s weak record on voting rights. As FairVote has noted before though, even more can be done to build a more representative political system in one of the country’s most diverse states. Reforms such as ranked choice voting and proportional representation would complement reforms that make voting easier by making it more meaningful. While consolidating primaries and improving registration would certainly help turnout, so would an electoral system where more voters can vote their conscience and have a chance of electing someone that truly represents them.