Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a statewide survey to select New York state’s new license plate design, with five proposals to choose from.

The voting, which opened Monday on the governor’s website, runs through Sept. 2. Voting will also be available to the public at the governor’s exhibit at the Great New York State Fair starting Wednesday. The license plate with the most votes will become the state’s official license plate and will be available to customers beginning in April.

“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 says. “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.”

The new plates will replace the aging Empire Blue & White plates, most of which are more than 10 years old. Once the new plates become available, the Department of Motor Vehicles will also stop issuing the Empire Gold plates and begin fully transitioning to the new design.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J. F. Schroeder says 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,” he says. “I hope everyone across the state will take a few minutes to view the options and vote for their top pick.”

The contest kicks off a new 10-year license plate replacement program to ensure all New York license plates on the roadways are reflective and easy to read. More than 3 million vehicles in New York have aging plates that are 10 years old or older. Because of their age, many of them are damaged, oxidized and peeling, making it difficult or impossible to read the license plate number. Having a license plate that is legible reduces a motorist’s risk of being pulled over and cited for having an illegible license plate.

The program also supports the governor’s efforts to modernize New York’s expansive transportation system. Replacing aging plates will eliminate legibility issues that hinder plate readers, which are used by law enforcement, red light cameras and cashless tolling systems, from correctly identifying the registered vehicle owner.

The current $25 license plate replacement fee will be added to the cost of the vehicle owner’s registration renewal. Customers may also keep their current license plate number for an additional $20 fee. Plate issuance begins for both original issuance and renewals on April 1.

In addition to the state’s official license plate, the DMV offers more than 200 custom license plates, many of which support charitable causes. A complete list of available custom plates can be found on the DMV’s website at

(Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is

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