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As Deadline Arrives, NY Immigrant Voters Encouraged to Register

New Yorkers can register to vote at any DMV office or through the DMV webpage. (Erik Hersman/Flickr)
New Yorkers can register to vote at any DMV office or through the DMV webpage. (Erik Hersman/Flickr)
October 14, 2016

NEW YORK – Today is the last day to register to vote in this fall's elections in New York, and the newest U.S. citizens especially are being encouraged to be sure they are on the voter rolls. Immigration has been a contentious issue in election campaigns this year, and Thanu Yakupitihage, senior communications manager at the New York Immigration Coalition, said for many immigrant voters, the stakes are very high.

"Immigrants who came to this country who have now become citizens, who are living in families where other members might not be citizens, and so those votes really represent the whole family," she said.

All New Yorkers can register to vote at any New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office or through the DMV web page at DMV.NY.gov.

Last week, the Immigration Coalition participated in a student registration drive in New York City high schools. Yakupitihage said it's part of an ongoing effort to reach out to communities where language may be the greatest barrier to participation.

"We work with all of our member organizations and community-based organizations who are able to speak to individuals in their native languages, making the individuals feel more comfortable, and explain the process to them," she added.

A similar registration drive last spring registered more than 8,000 new, young voters.

She stressed that this year and every year, encouraging immigrants to register and vote helps guarantee that they have a voice at all levels of government.

"We want candidates that support immigration reform; we want candidates that support immigration initiatives in cities and states," she explained. "And so, that's why getting out the vote is really important and registering ahead of the presidential election is also really important."

With immigration such a hot-button issue in this year's election, she said, immigrant voices may be more important than ever.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY