Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing changes to the rules around online political advertising in New York State.
Coined "The Democracy Agenda," the proposal is part of Cuomo's 2018 State of the State agenda and also includes measures the Governor believes will limit outside influence in state elections, and provisions for automatic voter registration, election-day voter registration and early voting.
To ensure the fairness and transparency of New York elections, Governor Cuomo has put forth a three-pronged strategy to:
- Expand New York State's definition of political communication to include paid internet and digital advertisements.
- Require digital platforms to maintain a public file of all political advertisements purchased by a person or group for publication on the platform.
- Require online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.
Under the proposal, paid political ads online would be required to clearly and conspicuously display the persona who paid for the ad and that it was not authorized or requested by any candidate. Now, online political ads will face the same disclosure requirements as television or radio ads, no matter what they cost, and voters will be able to see where the ad is coming from, even if it is as small as a tweet.
Violations of these requirements would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each instance.
Following numerous reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Governor Cuomo directed the New York State Cyber Security Advisory Board earlier this year to work with State agencies and the State and County Boards of Election to assess the threats to the cyber security of New York's elections infrastructure, identify security priorities, and recommend any necessary additional security measures.
As a result of this review, Governor Cuomo is proposing a four-pronged approach to further strengthen cyber protections for New York's elections infrastructure:
- Create an Election Support Center;
- Develop an Elections Cyber Security Support Toolkit;
- Provide Cyber Risk Vulnerability Assessments and Support for Local Boards of Elections; and
- Require Counties to Report Data Breaches to State Authorities
"What we saw during the last election was a systematic effort to undermine and manipulate our very democracy," said Governor Cuomo. "With these new safeguards, New York — in the strongest terms possible — will combat unscrupulous and shadowy threats to our electoral process, as well as break down fundamental barriers that for far too long have prevented New Yorkers from being heard and from exercising their right to vote."