Friend Rejects Bill Which Could Open State to Increased Voter Fraud

Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) rejected legislation to automatically register voters as they apply for various state services. The assemblyman expressed deep concerns that the legislation could open the state to increased voter fraud.

“The Majority’s automatic voter registration bill would make our state susceptible to voter fraud. We already have seen people illegally register to vote in our state, why make it easier for them,” said Friend. “Encouraging people to be engaged voters is a laudable thing, however, this would do quite the opposite and possibly disenfranchise the very people the bill intends to help.”

Of most concern to Friend is the ease of which non-citizens could register to vote. Non-citizens could potentially take advantage of the weak protections in place to prevent fraudulent voter registrations. Suffolk County has already reported that foreign nationals are illegally applying for voter registration, an automatic registration system at multiple agencies would make matters worse. Additionally, those applying for services through electronic means would not be required to provide a signature to help confirm the identity of an individual.

The legislation would also make it difficult to hold someone accountable for fraudulently registering to vote and voting in an election fraudulently. One accused of such a crime could simply claim that they did not intend to do so.

The bill could disenfranchise the individuals it wishes to help. For example, someone receiving services could apply using a temporary address. They would then be automatically registered at that address rather than where they would like to vote. This could be problematic for college students and those in shelters, including domestic violence victims and others.

The legislation would require automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Health (DOH), and others including the City Department of Social Services. The legislation excludes the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and real property tax services, which could be seen as an intentional exclusion of gun owners or property owners.