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Legislators revive drive for automatic voter registration in New York

The majority Democrats in the state Senate are reviving their effort to bring automatic voter registration to New York.

It would be the second-biggest state to adopt the system, after California. Fourteen other states and Washington, D.C., have also done so, in each case boosting turnout. Under AVR, as it's dubbed, an adult citizen's name is automatically added to the voter rolls interacting with a state government agency – most typically the one that issues driver's licenses – unless the person chooses to opt out.

"Automatic voter registration is a straightforward and evidenced-backed policy that would remove barriers between voters and the ballot box and make it easier for people to make their voices heard," the chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, Brooklyn Democrat Zellnor Myrie, said in announcing a hearing will be held after Memorial Day.

This year Democrats are running both legislative chambers in Albany for the first time in a decade and have already passed several measures designed to increase the state's historically low turnout. The measures expanded early voting, permitted Election Day registration, consolidated state and local primary days and modernized voting equipment.

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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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