As the Oct. 12 deadline to register to vote in New York approaches this Friday, groups and organizations across the state are scrambling to get people registered at the last minute. With the election now heating up because of recent and upcoming presidential debates, people are now making sure they get a voice in who’s elected president.

In order to be able to vote in the Nov. 6 general election, voters have until this Friday, Oct. 12, to register. Voters must be U.S. citizens, live at their current address for at least 30 days before the election and not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

Registering to vote can be done at a county board of elections or at any New York state agency-based voter registration center. Mailed voter registration forms must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 12, and received by Wednesday, Oct. 17.

This year, more than 16,000 New Yorkers, including almost 6,000 first-time voters, have used the Department of Motor Vehicles new online voter registration service. The initiative, announced Aug. 16, streamlines DMV services by allowing New Yorkers for the first time ever to apply to register to vote or update their address or party enrollment through a secure online site (

On Sept. 25, municipalities across the country participated in National Voter Registration Day. In 2008, 6 million Americans did not vote because they missed the registration deadline or did not know where to vote. Efforts across the city continued for people to not only register but also get more information on their status and new polling location.

Organizations have been targeting every voter, from young to new ones. Meanwhile, controversial voter ID laws in several states have pumped up the movement to get registered. While no such laws exist in New York, advocates are telling people to know their rights and make sure they are registered.

“Too many states this year are taking the wrong tack–they’re making it harder for people to vote when it should be easier. We’ve long torn down barriers to make democracy more inclusive, but not this year,” said New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Our own neighbor, Pennsylvania, has gone completely backwards. That can’t be the way we do things.”

President of the NAACP Ben Jealous said that while voting laws take hold in several states, registering is important because it will ensure that the Black voice will not go silent in the general election. The NAACP has aggressively held voter registration events across the country and has educated citizens on their rights.

“The NAACP and the Black church have been partners in the struggle for justice, equality and fairness for more than 100 years. We will work together to defend the right to vote and, at the same time, empower our communities to vote in all of the 2012 elections,” said Jealous.