‘Democracy Agenda’ Aims To Encourage Youth Voters

The number of voters under the age of 25 could increase in Chautauqua County if proposed changes for registration and elections occur, said Norm Green, the Chautauqua County Democratic election commissioner.

Green said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed changes to the voter registration process and elections could be positive for younger voters.

The changes proposed during Cuomo’s State of the State Address include more transparency in political advertising, requiring online platforms to maintain an archive of political ads and modernizing the voting system with early voting sites and same-day voter registration. The proposal also includes a “push for the adoption” of the Advancing Democracy Project, an initiative that hopes to streamline voter registration services, remove unnecessary barriers that prevent election participation and increases accuracy in the voting process.

Under the proposal, online political advertising will be included as part of political communication; digital platforms will be required to keep a public file of all political advertising purchased for publication on the platform.

Green said the governor should be “commended” for the proposals.

“It would be attractive to young voters to have flexibility to vote at their leisure the 12 days before any election, or on Election Day itself,” he said. “Further, for those who have not previously registered to have the convenience of instant Election Day registration makes sense. These Democracy Agenda proposals making access to the ballot box more convenient are a perfect enhancement to voting that will enfranchise young voters and will absolutely lead to an increase in the under age 25 voting participation.”

Green said only 15 percent of voters in Chautauqua County under age 25 came out to vote in the past two years. That figure represents young adults who voted in either the presidential election in 2016 or the recent local election in November. Frewsburg had a higher percentage, with 20 percent of young adults under the age of 25 voting.

Green said the figures were a disappointment.

“We’re getting them registered, we’re just not getting them to vote,” he said. “They’re not voting because they’re not interested. It’s not clicking with them.”

Green said he and Brian Abram, Republican Election Commissioner, visit schools and hold voter registration events to promote interest, so the figures are disappointing, he said. Green said this is the first time the board has configured these numbers, but he imagines other years would have had similar figures.

“We probably, as a group, have to rethink how to get people interested in voting,” Green said.

Those who vote have more power in government, he said. For example, Congress is wary of cutting Social Security because older people tend to vote more.

“The older you are, the more you vote,” Green said. “If you vote, our Congress will pay attention.”