Governor calls on New Yorkers to vote for new official state license plate

Photo courtesy of NYS DMV

New York license plates are getting an update and the governor is asking residents for their help choosing a new design.

From now until Sept. 2, New Yorkers can vote on one of five possible designs for the state’s official license plate. The public can vote using the online survey on Governor Cuomo’s website or at the governor’s exhibit at the Great New York State Fair starting Aug. 21.

The license plate with the most votes will become the state’s official plate beginning in April 2020. The new design will replace the over 10-year-old Empire Blue and White plates as well as the Empire Gold plates.

Four out of five of the proposed designs includes the New York State motto excelsior, a Latin word meaning “ever upward.” The plates also feature landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls and the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, named after the governor’s father.

“License plates are a symbol of who we are as a state and New Yorkers should have a voice and a vote in its final design,” Cuomo said. “As the life span of the old plates comes to an end and we develop new ones that are as easy to read as possible, I encourage all residents to take part in choosing this piece of our state’s history and the State Fair is a perfect place to do that.”

Currently, over three million vehicles in New York state have plates that are 10 years old or older. The aged plates undergo damage, oxidation and peeling, which makes it difficult or impossible to read the license place number. The contest kicks off Cuomo’s 10-year license plate replacement program to ensure that plates are reflective and easy to read.

According to the governor’s office, law enforcement is less likely to pull over and issue citations to motorists with legible license plates.

“The time has come for New York to have a new license plate, which is why we worked hard to create design options that not only capture the heart of the Empire State but also that our customers will be proud to put on their vehicles. I hope everyone across the state will take a few minutes to view the options and vote for their top pick,” said Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J. F. Schroeder.

Cuomo proposed the license place replacement program to modernize New York’s expansive transportation system. New legible plates will allow license plate readers, which law enforcement, red light cameras and cashless tolling systems utilize, to correctly identify registered vehicle owners.

As customers renew their vehicle registrations over the new two years, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will replace license plates 10 years or older beginning on April 1, 2020. Vehicle owners can pay $25 to replace their plates and an additional $20 if they choose to keep their current license plate number.

Drivers can also choose from more than 200 custom license plates from the DMV, including ones that support charitable causes. See the complete list of custom plates on the DMV’s website at

See plate designs and vote here. Voting closes on Monday, Sept. 2, at 11:59 p.m.