Unions to Albany: Register 2 Million+ More Voters, Pass Enhanced AVR!

By Helen Schaub, Hae-Lin Choi, Candis Tall, Rich Maroko, Al Vincent Jr | May 30, 2024

Dear Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie:

As proud leaders of New York’s labor movement, we write to thank you for your leadership in advancing important voting reforms in New York over the past several years.

Even with recent reforms, New York still has a long way to go to improve its substandard participation rate in elections. One way is to follow in the footsteps of states like Massachusetts, Michigan and Colorado by enacting enhanced automatic voter registration (Enhanced AVR). Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Karines Reyes have introduced Enhanced AVR legislation (S8752 and A9732), and we strongly support this bill.

Enhanced AVR improves access to the ballot, strengthens the security of our voting systems, and helps modernize our elections systems and records.  Enhanced AVR would automate the voter registration system by adding eligible voters to the rolls at key target agencies including the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Health, while giving individuals the choice to opt out afterward. The system provides strong protection for New York State’s immigrants, using verification methods which greatly reduce the possibility that any ineligible New York State resident is registered to vote. Finally, this system makes it easier for New York to keep its voter rolls clean and up to date, while ensuring that New Yorkers are best able to keep their addresses on the voter rolls up to date.

By eliminating traditional registration barriers, Enhanced AVR ensures a more racially and economically representative pool of registered voters. Research from other states has found that voters registered via Enhanced AVR are significantly more diverse than the traditional registration pool, which can greatly benefit our collective union membership.

Under your leadership, New York has taken important steps in recent years to modernize its voting system, with more funding for election departments and common-sense policy changes to modernize our elections. Enhanced AVR would build on this work, helping address the state’s historically low rates of voter participation while improving access for those who are too often left out, including many of our members.

We ask that you promptly move this important legislation forward, both on behalf of our members as well as New York State’s voters as a whole.  Thank you for your consideration.


Helen Schaub, Interim Political Director, 1199SEIU

Hae-Lin Choi, Political Director, Communications Workers of America, District 1

Candis Tall, Vice President & Political Director, 32BJ SEIU

Rich Maroko, President, Hotel & Gaming Trades Council (HTC)

Al Vincent Jr, Executive Director, Actors’ Equity Association



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