1. The Laws of New York
  2. Consolidated Laws
  3. Election
  4. Article 5: Registration and Enrollment of Voters
  5. Title 2: Registration and Enrollment


Section 5-211 Agency assisted registration

Election (ELN)

Each agency designated as a participating agency under the provisions of this section 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 office of children and family services, the office of temporary and disability 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' services, office of mental health, office of vocational and educational services for individuals with disabilities, commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled, office for people with developmental disabilities, commission for the blind, office of alcoholism and substance abuse services, the office of the advocate for the disabled and all offices which administer programs established or funded by such agencies. Additional participating agencies designated as voter registration offices are the department of state and the district offices of the workers' compensation board. Such agencies shall be required to offer voter registration forms to persons upon initial application for services, renewal or recertification for services and upon change of address relating to such services. Such agencies shall also be responsible for providing assistance 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 United States 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 of elections shall also make request of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to include applications for registration by mail with any materials which are given to new citizens.

  1. The state board of elections shall adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the requirements of this section and shall prepare and distribute to participating agencies written instructions as to the implementation of the program and shall be responsible for establishing training programs for employees of participating agencies involved in such program. The state board of elections shall provide a toll free telephone to answer registration questions.

  2. Strict neutrality with respect to a person's party enrollment shall be maintained and all persons seeking voter registration forms and information shall be advised that government services are not conditioned on being registered to vote. No statement shall be made nor any action taken to discourage the applicant from registering to vote.

  3. If a participating agency provides services to a person with a disability at the person's place of residence, the agency shall offer the opportunity to complete a voter registration form at such place of residence.

  4. Each participating agency shall provide to each applicant who does not decline to register to vote the same degree of assistance with regard to the completion of the registration application form as is provided by the agency with regard to the completion of its own form unless the applicant refuses such assistance.

  5. Employees of a voter registration agency who provide voter registration assistance shall not:

  (a) seek to influence an applicant's political preference or party designation;

  (b) display any political preference or party allegiance;

  (c) make any statement to an applicant or take any action the purpose or effect of which is to discourage the applicant from registering to vote; or

  (d) make any statement to an applicant or take any action the purpose or effect of which is to lead the applicant to believe that a decision to register or not to register has any bearing on the availability of services or benefits.

  6. The state board of elections shall coordinate and monitor the distribution of voter registration forms by those state agencies, departments, divisions and offices selected to participate in the program to maximize the efficient and non partisan distribution of voter registration information and forms. The board shall also adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to require county boards and participating agencies to provide the state board with such information and data as the board deems necessary to assess compliance with this section and to compile such statistics as may be required by the federal elections commission.

  7. Each participating agency, department, division and office that makes available voter registration forms shall prominently display promotional materials designed and approved by the state board of elections, informing the public of the existence of voter registration services.

  8. 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 registration form together with instructions relating to eligibility to register and for completing the form except that forms used by the department of social services 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:

  (a) the question, "If you are not registered to vote where you live now, would you like to apply to register here today?"

  (b) The statement, "applying to register or declining to register to vote will not affect the amount of assistance that you will be provided by this agency."

  (c) boxes for the applicant to check to indicate whether the applicant would like to register or decline to register to vote.

  (d) the statement in prominent type, "IF YOU DO NOT CHECK EITHER BOX, YOU WILL BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE DECIDED NOT TO REGISTER TO VOTE AT THIS TIME."

  (e) the statement, "If you would like help in filling out the voter registration application form, we will help you. The decision whether to seek or accept help is yours. You may fill out the application form in private."

  (f) the statement, "If you believe that someone has interfered with your right to register or decline to register to vote, your right to privacy in deciding whether to register or in applying to register to vote, or your right to choose your own political party or other political preference, you may file a complaint with the state board of elections (address and toll free telephone number)."

  (g) a toll free number at the state board of elections that can be called for answers to registration questions.

  9. Disclosure of voter registration information, including a declination to register, by a participating agency, its agents or employees, for other than voter registration purposes, shall be deemed an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy pursuant to the provisions of subdivision two of section eighty-nine of the public officers law and shall constitute a violation of this chapter.

  10. The form containing the declination to register to vote shall be retained by the recipient agency for the same period of time as such agency retains the accompanying application for services or for such shorter period of time as may be approved by the state board of elections.

  11. The participating agency shall transmit the completed applications for registration and change of address forms to the appropriate board of elections not later than ten days after receipt except that all such completed applications and forms received by the agency between the thirtieth and twenty-fifth day before an election shall be transmitted in such manner and at such time as to assure their receipt by such board of elections not later than the twentieth day before such election.

  12. Completed application forms, when received by a participating agency not later than the twenty-fifth day before the next ensuing primary, general or special election and transmitted by such agency to the appropriate board of elections so that they are received by such board not later than the twentieth day before such election shall entitle the applicant to vote in such election provided the board determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified.

  13. The state board of elections shall provide application forms for use pursuant to this section except that any agency which uses a form other than such registration form shall be responsible for providing such form. Forms which vary in design and or content from the form approved by the state board of elections may only be used with the approval of such board.

  14. Applications shall be processed by the board of elections in the manner prescribed by section 5-210 of this title or, if the applicant is already registered to vote from another address in the county or city, in the manner prescribed by section 5-208 of this title. The board shall send the appropriate notice of approval or rejection as required by either subdivision nine of such section 5-210 or subdivision five of such section 5-208.

  15. The head of each participating agency shall take all actions which are necessary and proper for the implementation of this section. Each agency head shall designate one person within the agency as the agency voter registration coordinator who will, under the direction of the state board of elections, be responsible for the voter registration program in such agency.

  16. The state board shall develop and distribute public information and promotional materials relating to the purposes and implementation of this program.

  17. Each agency designated as a participating agency under this section shall conduct a study and prepare a report to determine the feasibility, practicality and cost-effectiveness of designing their agency intake forms to serve also as voter registration forms that comply with state and federal law. Such study and report shall be completed by December 1, 1996. Copies of such reports shall be provided to the governor, the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly and the state board of elections. After submission of the report, participating agencies that determine that it is feasible, practical and cost-effective to have such forms also serve as voter registration forms shall do so upon the approval of the state board of elections. For each agency that determines it is feasible, practical and cost effective to use agency intake forms that serve also as voter registration forms, the state board of elections shall approve or disapprove such use within six months of the submission of the report by the agency.

  18. (a) (i) On or before January first, two thousand twenty, all institutions of the state university of New York and the city university of New York shall create and make available to all students a webpage for voter education on each such institution's website, containing a link to an application for voter registration, a link to an application for an absentee ballot, contact information for the county board of elections, and the name and contact information for the administrator responsible for voter registration assistance on each campus.

  (ii) Each such institution shall, at the beginning of the school year, and again in January of a year in which the president of the United States is to be elected, provide an application for voter registration and an application for an absentee ballot to each student in each such institution. Each institution shall be considered in compliance with the requirements of this subparagraph for each student to whom the institution electronically transmits a message containing the link to the webpage for voter education, the link to an application for voter registration and the link to an application for an absentee ballot, if such information is in an electronic message devoted exclusively to voter registration.

  (iii) Each such institution shall provide the same degree of assistance as required of participating agencies.

  (b) The state university of New York and the city university of New York, on behalf of each institution within its system, shall on or before June first, two thousand twenty, and each subsequent year, submit a report disaggregated according to each institution to the state board of elections that includes:

  (i) the efforts of the institution to register voters in the preceding calendar year;

  (ii) a date-stamped screen shot of the webpage for voter education that contains the required information under paragraph (a) of this subdivision;

  (iii) the number of students who were registered for course work in the preceding twelve months at such institution and the number of clicks on the links to online voter registration and absentee ballot applications; and

  (iv) any other efforts or recommendations the institution plans to implement to improve access to voter registration and absentee ballot voting for students at the institution.

  (c) The state board of elections shall make the reports provided pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subdivision publicly available on its website.