With voter turnout at record low numbers, a new bill that just passed in the closing days of the New York State Assembly session could very well go a long way to bringing out new voters.
Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda's "Young Adult Voter Registration Act" would require each public high school within the state to make voter registration forms available to students.
While the voting age in New York State is 18, students who are 17-years-old could pre-register before reaching legal voting age," said Sepulveda.
"This would also be a step in helping to educate youth about civic responsibility and having a voice in determining who will represent their interests as younger members of society," he added.
"Regretfully, far too few New Yorkers vote in local, state or national elections, and voter participation has been declining," he said.
In the 2016 general election, New York State ranked 41st in the nation for voter turnout, with just more than 57 percent of registered voters casting ballots, Sepulveda said, with just under 56 percent of New York City voters and 52 percent of Bronx voters turning out.
"Affirmative steps are necessary to encourage and increase voter participation in all elections," said the Assemblymember.
He attributed the decline and lack of participation, in part, to the fact that voters find it difficult to register to vote.
"Although state law provides mechanisms for distributing voter registration forms by state agencies as part of agency-based voter registration programs, the Department of Education does not participate in such programs," he noted, "despite it being uniquely positioned in the state to enhance the participation of young people in the democratic process by distributing voter registration forms to potential young voters."
The measure now goes to the Senate, where Queens Senator James Sanders Jr. is its prime sponsor.
“We need to encourage more young people to take part in the democratic process by voting," said Sanders. "I am proud to support Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda and to be the sponsor of this bill in the senate."
"Since the next generation will shape the future of our country, they should be informed in order to make smart choices," Sanders added. "I hope that registering to vote will encourage them to be more active in politics and in learning about the role of government in their lives.”
Assemblyman Sepulveda represents the 87th Assembly District covering Parkchester, Castle Hill, West Farms, Van Nest and Stratton Park.