Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/voting 2018-11-20T15:51:26+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Fix New York’s Broken Balloting and Election Laws 2018-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 2018-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8059-fix-new-york-s-broken-balloting-and-election-laws Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/37538369094_848cd1720a_z.jpg" alt="voting booths polling place" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>On Tuesday millions of New Yorkers attempted to exercise their constitutional right to vote. However, far too many in New York City were met with <a href="https://twitter.com/electionland/status/1059921455117414400/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1059921455117414400&amp;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.citylab.com%2Fequity%2F2018%2F11%2Fnew-york-city-polling-place-vote-suppression-lines-machines%2F575074%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener">broken ballot scanners</a> and hours-long lines that stretched for blocks in the pouring rain. It is encouraging to see so many citizens making the time and effort to vote, but incredibly disheartening to see our broken election system failing them.</p> <p>With the impending arrival of the long-awaited trifecta of Democratic leadership in New York State (Democratic Governor, Senate and Assembly) alongside reform-minded allies in New York City government, fixing our archaic and ineffective electoral process should be the first order of business once the new Legislature is seated in January.</p> <p>At polling sites across New York City there were reports of at least one – and sometimes all – ballot scanners malfunctioning. Thousands of voters braved hours of waiting and confusion just to fill out unscanned emergency ballots. Even in places where some of the scanners did work (such as the paltry two at my polling place in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn), poll sites and workers seemed overwhelmed by the dramatic turnout -- which still wasn’t even at 40% in the city or anywhere near presidential election levels.</p> <p>We will never know how many voters gave up on the long lines and didn’t vote, or what the chilling effect may be on future turnout. The initial response from the Board of Elections on the scanner malfunctions is that soggy or imperfectly torn ballots jammed the machines. Aren’t these issues we could -- and should -- have prepared for? Regardless of the merit of these questionable excuses, the bigger issue is clear: our current election systems are incapable of meeting the needs of our electorate.</p> <p>It’s not just machines and preparation.</p> <p>New York trails other states across the board in voting laws and procedures. One of the main reasons for the problems this past Tuesday is that poll sites were simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of voters attempting to vote on a single day – there weren’t enough poll workers or scanners. This is why <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">37 other states have enacted some form of early voting</a>, which expands the eligible voting period. This both lessens the logjam on a single day and has the added benefit of giving voters more flexibility. It also can help flag issues like machine jams due to two-page ballots.</p> <p>Early voting in other states over the past few weeks saw a <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/05/politics/early-voting-as-of-monday-morning/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">surge in young and first-time voters</a>, the same voters who may have given up on voting Tuesday or have already become jaded by the experience.</p> <p>Relatedly, New York is the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/nyregion/new-york-primary-congress-state-federal.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only state in the entire nation</a> which holds its state and federal primaries on separate days, which is incredibly confusing for the average voter and fiscally wasteful. With the additional $25 million or so spent on having a second primary day, New York could make great strides towards enacting early voting. New York also holds “closed” (party-based) primaries with the <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/media/blog/dont-miss-party-primaries-2016" target="_blank" rel="noopener">earliest party registration deadlines</a> in the nation, which caused an uproar in the last presidential election. Where other states have enacted additional pro-voter participation features such as same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, New York continues to fall further and further behind. These policy shortcomings are compounded by additional confusion such as the <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/new-york-city-board-elections-settles-lawsuit-over-voter-purge-n816941" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brooklyn “voter purge”</a> in 2016 and the more recent 400,000 person <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/nyregion/inactive-voter-letter-nyc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“inactive voter” misfire</a> just last month. Our elected leaders at the city and state levels must take a close look at both our laws and the Board of Elections.</p> <p>With all of these issues, it is truly amazing how many voters turned up on Tuesday in a state with such a dismal record. New York State has the fourth most registered voters of any state in the nation, but had the eighth worst turnout in the 2016 presidential election. Imagine how many people might vote if they had an extra day (or several) to do so, if the lines were shorter, and if they could count on ballot scanners working.</p> <p>It is time for New York City and State to finally make strides on voting access and ease and catch up with the rest of the nation. Our democracy depends on it.</p> <p>***<br /> Jamie Ansorge is an Attorney at Cozen O’Conner, Executive Board Member of the New Leaders Council NYC Chapter, and Co-Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Young Professional Leadership Council. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/AnsorgeNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@AnsorgeNYC</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/37538369094_848cd1720a_z.jpg" alt="voting booths polling place" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>On Tuesday millions of New Yorkers attempted to exercise their constitutional right to vote. However, far too many in New York City were met with <a href="https://twitter.com/electionland/status/1059921455117414400/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1059921455117414400&amp;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.citylab.com%2Fequity%2F2018%2F11%2Fnew-york-city-polling-place-vote-suppression-lines-machines%2F575074%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener">broken ballot scanners</a> and hours-long lines that stretched for blocks in the pouring rain. It is encouraging to see so many citizens making the time and effort to vote, but incredibly disheartening to see our broken election system failing them.</p> <p>With the impending arrival of the long-awaited trifecta of Democratic leadership in New York State (Democratic Governor, Senate and Assembly) alongside reform-minded allies in New York City government, fixing our archaic and ineffective electoral process should be the first order of business once the new Legislature is seated in January.</p> <p>At polling sites across New York City there were reports of at least one – and sometimes all – ballot scanners malfunctioning. Thousands of voters braved hours of waiting and confusion just to fill out unscanned emergency ballots. Even in places where some of the scanners did work (such as the paltry two at my polling place in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn), poll sites and workers seemed overwhelmed by the dramatic turnout -- which still wasn’t even at 40% in the city or anywhere near presidential election levels.</p> <p>We will never know how many voters gave up on the long lines and didn’t vote, or what the chilling effect may be on future turnout. The initial response from the Board of Elections on the scanner malfunctions is that soggy or imperfectly torn ballots jammed the machines. Aren’t these issues we could -- and should -- have prepared for? Regardless of the merit of these questionable excuses, the bigger issue is clear: our current election systems are incapable of meeting the needs of our electorate.</p> <p>It’s not just machines and preparation.</p> <p>New York trails other states across the board in voting laws and procedures. One of the main reasons for the problems this past Tuesday is that poll sites were simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of voters attempting to vote on a single day – there weren’t enough poll workers or scanners. This is why <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">37 other states have enacted some form of early voting</a>, which expands the eligible voting period. This both lessens the logjam on a single day and has the added benefit of giving voters more flexibility. It also can help flag issues like machine jams due to two-page ballots.</p> <p>Early voting in other states over the past few weeks saw a <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/05/politics/early-voting-as-of-monday-morning/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">surge in young and first-time voters</a>, the same voters who may have given up on voting Tuesday or have already become jaded by the experience.</p> <p>Relatedly, New York is the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/nyregion/new-york-primary-congress-state-federal.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only state in the entire nation</a> which holds its state and federal primaries on separate days, which is incredibly confusing for the average voter and fiscally wasteful. With the additional $25 million or so spent on having a second primary day, New York could make great strides towards enacting early voting. New York also holds “closed” (party-based) primaries with the <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/media/blog/dont-miss-party-primaries-2016" target="_blank" rel="noopener">earliest party registration deadlines</a> in the nation, which caused an uproar in the last presidential election. Where other states have enacted additional pro-voter participation features such as same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, New York continues to fall further and further behind. These policy shortcomings are compounded by additional confusion such as the <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/new-york-city-board-elections-settles-lawsuit-over-voter-purge-n816941" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brooklyn “voter purge”</a> in 2016 and the more recent 400,000 person <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/nyregion/inactive-voter-letter-nyc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“inactive voter” misfire</a> just last month. Our elected leaders at the city and state levels must take a close look at both our laws and the Board of Elections.</p> <p>With all of these issues, it is truly amazing how many voters turned up on Tuesday in a state with such a dismal record. New York State has the fourth most registered voters of any state in the nation, but had the eighth worst turnout in the 2016 presidential election. Imagine how many people might vote if they had an extra day (or several) to do so, if the lines were shorter, and if they could count on ballot scanners working.</p> <p>It is time for New York City and State to finally make strides on voting access and ease and catch up with the rest of the nation. Our democracy depends on it.</p> <p>***<br /> Jamie Ansorge is an Attorney at Cozen O’Conner, Executive Board Member of the New Leaders Council NYC Chapter, and Co-Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Young Professional Leadership Council. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/AnsorgeNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@AnsorgeNYC</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
The 3 Big Reasons Why Elections in New York City are So Poorly Run 2018-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 2018-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8053-the-3-big-reasons-why-elections-in-new-york-city-are-so-poorly-run Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/and-cuomo-nov2.jpg" alt="and cuomo nov2" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)</p> <hr /> <p>Election Day in New York City was, as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson <a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyinNYC/status/1059871915727376384" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote on Twitter</a>, “like Groundhog Day,” where yet again, voters were forced to wait in long lines as ballot scanners across the city broke down, a sign of the abysmal election administration that New Yorkers have come to expect every time they visit the polls.</p> <p>The past few elections -- city, state, and federal -- conducted in New York City have repeatedly shown instances of failure on the part of the New York City Board of Elections, an entity whose name belies the fact that it is a state-created agency charged with administering several elections each year. City BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan -- who is hired by the board’s ten commissioners and reports to them -- suggested on Tuesday, <a href="https://twitter.com/LindseyChrist/status/1059849434945806343" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a brief video</a> posted to Twitter by NY1 reporter Lindsey Christ, that the cause of the latest debacle was a combination of higher turnout, an unwieldy two-page ballot (owing to three ballot questions on the back) and wet ballots because of voters coming in from rainy weather.</p> <p>The BOE’s problems, long recognized by government reformers, some elected officials, and of course voters, came urgently to the forefront after the 2016 presidential primary, in which more than 117,000 voters were improperly purged from the rolls in Brooklyn, the city’s most populated borough. The purge, <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-board-elections-admits-it-broke-law-accepts-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">originally reported by WNYC</a>, led to a federal lawsuit against the BOE, which later opted for a settlement in which it admitted that it broke the law. But while the settlement prompted improvements to voter roll management, the BOE’s inability to smoothly run elections has stretched far beyond that one area or even the last few years.</p> <p>“I think there’s many different problems at many different levels that lead to a day like this,” said Alex Camarda, senior policy advisor at Reinvent Albany, a government reform group.</p> <p>In a statement, Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, who serves on the Rules, Judiciary, Health and Election Law committees, said, “Today’s problems should have been prevented. Rainy weather and high voter turnout should not be impediments to a functional election system.”</p> <p>So why is the New York City Board of Elections so dysfunctional? What is standing in the way of New Yorkers and easy voting experiences?</p> <p><strong>A Structural Problem</strong><br />Part of the reason for the BOE’s continued failures is the agency’s structure itself. Though the agency is funded by the city, and the City Council conducts regular oversight of its function after each election, it is a creation of the state. Its commissioners are chosen by county party committees according to state law -- by the top two vote-getting political parties in the five boroughs, which, for all intents and purposes, means Democrats and Republicans. Each party selects one commissioner from each borough who is then confirmed by the City Council to make up the ten-member board, which decides on everything from election management procedures to candidates’ inclusion on the ballot.</p> <p>The entire process is rife with patronage, with not only the commissioners, but most of the BOE’s staff employees appointed by county chairs along party lines. The board has been resistant to efforts by the city to professionalize its ranks, pushing back against City Council legislation that would require appointments akin to civil service jobs. Broadly speaking, criticism of the board boils down to the belief that it is more concerned about keeping the county party leaders happy than it is about delivering good service to voters, and that it is not necessarily well-prepared to deliver top-notch service even if that was the main focus.</p> <p>Immediately following the 2016 election snafu, Mayor Bill de Blasio even <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/389-16/mayor-de-blasio-make-20-million-available-city-board-elections-vital-reforms" target="_blank" rel="noopener">offered</a> the BOE an additional $20 million to implement reforms including hiring an outside consultant and creating a blue ribbon panel to conduct a top-to-bottom review of systemic issues, providing more transparency in hiring, and new methods of communication with voters. The BOE, however, refused the offer. &nbsp;</p> <p>Speaker Johnson, who called for Ryan’s resignation on Tuesday, said in a phone interview that there is a dire need for reforms at the state level. But, he insisted, “Until that happens, we need competent leadership at the staff level from the Board of Elections.”</p> <p>Johnson said the reasons Ryan gave in the video on Twitter, including the rainy weather and higher turnout, were “predictable” factors. “Those aren’t valid reasons to have hundreds of machines breaking down...That did not give me confidence in him understanding the depth of anger that New Yorkers felt at the polls,” he said. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Voting and electoral laws</strong><br />New York employs what good government groups call “passive voter suppression” with election and voting laws that tend to discourage turnout. The state is one of 13 that does not have early voting, which means that the nearly 13 million registered voters across the state must cast their ballots in a 15-hour period on the day of the general election (During the September primary, poll sites were only open for nine hours in 49 out of 62 counties). Besides depressing turnout, the lack of early voting also forces the BOE to resolve issues as they arise at the ballot box on election day rather than be able to preempt them.</p> <p>“On the one hand, the problem today seems to be with the scanners, the hardware and software,” Camarda said. “But obviously if reforms had been passed like early voting, that would’ve provided a dry run to prevent these kinds of issues from occurring.”</p> <p>The state has also failed to pass common-sense voting reforms such as no-excuse absentee ballots, mail-in ballots, electronic poll books or consolidating primary election dates. Case in point, New York held two primaries this year, one in June for congressional seats and the second in September for state candidates. In terms of voting, the state also does not allow same-day voter registration and has one of the longest deadlines for switching party registration.</p> <p>The Democrat-led State Assembly has repeatedly passed many of those reforms and Democratic leaders, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have blamed Republicans who control the State Senate for blocking them in turn. Though Cuomo has often said he supports that broad reform platform, he has put little capital behind it and has been promising this year to advance them if the Democrats flip control of the Senate, which they did on Election Day. Senate Democratic leaders have listed voting and election reform as a top priority for early 2019.</p> <p><strong>Overworked, Underpaid and Untrained Poll Workers</strong><br />Though there have been efforts in the Assembly to provide raises to poll workers, who are volunteers, and reduce the long shifts that they are required to serve, most workers continue to be underpaid and overworked. Poll worker training is also seen is inadequate and often causes some of the issues seen on election day, contributing to long lines, confusion, and frustration.</p> <p>The mayor’s funding offer would have required the BOE to provide a plan to improve both&nbsp;poll worker pay and training, including bonuses for those who volunteered at multiple elections in a year. Electronic poll books may also aid efforts to run elections more quickly and smoothly, they are on the list of potential reforms.</p> <p>Many of the less-controversial reforms are long overdue. An <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/stringer-audit-board-of-elections-failures-jeopardize-new-yorkers-right-to-vote/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">audit</a> released by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer in November last year found that in three elections since 2016, out of 156 polling sites, 90 percent showed significant breakdowns ranging from mishandling of affidavit ballots and inadequate staffing to a lack of assistance for voters with disabilities. “After a thorough review of the agency, it’s clear the voter purge is a reflection of larger, systemic, day-to-day breakdowns,” Stringer said in a statement at the time. “Elections matter, and every vote must be counted in every election. That’s why the BOE needs to fundamentally change its operations.”</p> <p>Camarda’s group has for years advocated for a municipal poll worker program. “The executive director of the Board of Elections has a very difficult job because you’re managing a temporary workforce of roughly 35,000 people across some 1,300 poll sites,” he said. “If you want to have qualified people to do these jobs, you’ve got to pay them.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, Senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/and-cuomo-nov2.jpg" alt="and cuomo nov2" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)</p> <hr /> <p>Election Day in New York City was, as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson <a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyinNYC/status/1059871915727376384" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote on Twitter</a>, “like Groundhog Day,” where yet again, voters were forced to wait in long lines as ballot scanners across the city broke down, a sign of the abysmal election administration that New Yorkers have come to expect every time they visit the polls.</p> <p>The past few elections -- city, state, and federal -- conducted in New York City have repeatedly shown instances of failure on the part of the New York City Board of Elections, an entity whose name belies the fact that it is a state-created agency charged with administering several elections each year. City BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan -- who is hired by the board’s ten commissioners and reports to them -- suggested on Tuesday, <a href="https://twitter.com/LindseyChrist/status/1059849434945806343" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a brief video</a> posted to Twitter by NY1 reporter Lindsey Christ, that the cause of the latest debacle was a combination of higher turnout, an unwieldy two-page ballot (owing to three ballot questions on the back) and wet ballots because of voters coming in from rainy weather.</p> <p>The BOE’s problems, long recognized by government reformers, some elected officials, and of course voters, came urgently to the forefront after the 2016 presidential primary, in which more than 117,000 voters were improperly purged from the rolls in Brooklyn, the city’s most populated borough. The purge, <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-board-elections-admits-it-broke-law-accepts-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">originally reported by WNYC</a>, led to a federal lawsuit against the BOE, which later opted for a settlement in which it admitted that it broke the law. But while the settlement prompted improvements to voter roll management, the BOE’s inability to smoothly run elections has stretched far beyond that one area or even the last few years.</p> <p>“I think there’s many different problems at many different levels that lead to a day like this,” said Alex Camarda, senior policy advisor at Reinvent Albany, a government reform group.</p> <p>In a statement, Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, who serves on the Rules, Judiciary, Health and Election Law committees, said, “Today’s problems should have been prevented. Rainy weather and high voter turnout should not be impediments to a functional election system.”</p> <p>So why is the New York City Board of Elections so dysfunctional? What is standing in the way of New Yorkers and easy voting experiences?</p> <p><strong>A Structural Problem</strong><br />Part of the reason for the BOE’s continued failures is the agency’s structure itself. Though the agency is funded by the city, and the City Council conducts regular oversight of its function after each election, it is a creation of the state. Its commissioners are chosen by county party committees according to state law -- by the top two vote-getting political parties in the five boroughs, which, for all intents and purposes, means Democrats and Republicans. Each party selects one commissioner from each borough who is then confirmed by the City Council to make up the ten-member board, which decides on everything from election management procedures to candidates’ inclusion on the ballot.</p> <p>The entire process is rife with patronage, with not only the commissioners, but most of the BOE’s staff employees appointed by county chairs along party lines. The board has been resistant to efforts by the city to professionalize its ranks, pushing back against City Council legislation that would require appointments akin to civil service jobs. Broadly speaking, criticism of the board boils down to the belief that it is more concerned about keeping the county party leaders happy than it is about delivering good service to voters, and that it is not necessarily well-prepared to deliver top-notch service even if that was the main focus.</p> <p>Immediately following the 2016 election snafu, Mayor Bill de Blasio even <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/389-16/mayor-de-blasio-make-20-million-available-city-board-elections-vital-reforms" target="_blank" rel="noopener">offered</a> the BOE an additional $20 million to implement reforms including hiring an outside consultant and creating a blue ribbon panel to conduct a top-to-bottom review of systemic issues, providing more transparency in hiring, and new methods of communication with voters. The BOE, however, refused the offer. &nbsp;</p> <p>Speaker Johnson, who called for Ryan’s resignation on Tuesday, said in a phone interview that there is a dire need for reforms at the state level. But, he insisted, “Until that happens, we need competent leadership at the staff level from the Board of Elections.”</p> <p>Johnson said the reasons Ryan gave in the video on Twitter, including the rainy weather and higher turnout, were “predictable” factors. “Those aren’t valid reasons to have hundreds of machines breaking down...That did not give me confidence in him understanding the depth of anger that New Yorkers felt at the polls,” he said. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Voting and electoral laws</strong><br />New York employs what good government groups call “passive voter suppression” with election and voting laws that tend to discourage turnout. The state is one of 13 that does not have early voting, which means that the nearly 13 million registered voters across the state must cast their ballots in a 15-hour period on the day of the general election (During the September primary, poll sites were only open for nine hours in 49 out of 62 counties). Besides depressing turnout, the lack of early voting also forces the BOE to resolve issues as they arise at the ballot box on election day rather than be able to preempt them.</p> <p>“On the one hand, the problem today seems to be with the scanners, the hardware and software,” Camarda said. “But obviously if reforms had been passed like early voting, that would’ve provided a dry run to prevent these kinds of issues from occurring.”</p> <p>The state has also failed to pass common-sense voting reforms such as no-excuse absentee ballots, mail-in ballots, electronic poll books or consolidating primary election dates. Case in point, New York held two primaries this year, one in June for congressional seats and the second in September for state candidates. In terms of voting, the state also does not allow same-day voter registration and has one of the longest deadlines for switching party registration.</p> <p>The Democrat-led State Assembly has repeatedly passed many of those reforms and Democratic leaders, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have blamed Republicans who control the State Senate for blocking them in turn. Though Cuomo has often said he supports that broad reform platform, he has put little capital behind it and has been promising this year to advance them if the Democrats flip control of the Senate, which they did on Election Day. Senate Democratic leaders have listed voting and election reform as a top priority for early 2019.</p> <p><strong>Overworked, Underpaid and Untrained Poll Workers</strong><br />Though there have been efforts in the Assembly to provide raises to poll workers, who are volunteers, and reduce the long shifts that they are required to serve, most workers continue to be underpaid and overworked. Poll worker training is also seen is inadequate and often causes some of the issues seen on election day, contributing to long lines, confusion, and frustration.</p> <p>The mayor’s funding offer would have required the BOE to provide a plan to improve both&nbsp;poll worker pay and training, including bonuses for those who volunteered at multiple elections in a year. Electronic poll books may also aid efforts to run elections more quickly and smoothly, they are on the list of potential reforms.</p> <p>Many of the less-controversial reforms are long overdue. An <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/stringer-audit-board-of-elections-failures-jeopardize-new-yorkers-right-to-vote/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">audit</a> released by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer in November last year found that in three elections since 2016, out of 156 polling sites, 90 percent showed significant breakdowns ranging from mishandling of affidavit ballots and inadequate staffing to a lack of assistance for voters with disabilities. “After a thorough review of the agency, it’s clear the voter purge is a reflection of larger, systemic, day-to-day breakdowns,” Stringer said in a statement at the time. “Elections matter, and every vote must be counted in every election. That’s why the BOE needs to fundamentally change its operations.”</p> <p>Camarda’s group has for years advocated for a municipal poll worker program. “The executive director of the Board of Elections has a very difficult job because you’re managing a temporary workforce of roughly 35,000 people across some 1,300 poll sites,” he said. “If you want to have qualified people to do these jobs, you’ve got to pay them.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, Senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Nearly 160,000 New Democratic Voters in 7 Months; 22,000 New Republicans 2018-11-01T04:00:00+00:00 2018-11-01T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8039-nearly-160-000-new-democratic-voters-in-6-months-22-000-new-republicans Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/30833380106_11c5de4882_h.jpg" alt="30833380106 11c5de4882 h" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>New Yorkers line up to vote (photo: Edwin Torres/Mayor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Close to 160,000 New Yorkers registered with the Democratic Party in the last seven months, according to the <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/EnrollmentCounty.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">latest enrollment numbers</a> released by the State Board of Elections on Thursday, compared with just over 22,000 voters who joined the Republican Party and close to 113,000 who registered but did not pick a party affiliation. In total, there were 12.7 million registered voters across the state, an increase of about 300,000 since April.</p> <p>The numbers were released, as they typically are on November 1, just a few days before New Yorkers head to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots for governor and other statewide positions, as well as members of the state Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives, among other seats. Democrats are hoping to keep control of all the statewide positions on the ballot as well as the state Assembly, while flipping control of the state Senate and enough House seats to contribute to a takeover of that chamber nationally.</p> <p>Democrats have long maintained an overwhelming registration advantage in the state and that has only been growing in recent years, likely in part in response to the Trump presidency and the Republican-led Congress. Prior to going to the polls in November 2016, there were 6.18 million registered Democratic voters statewide. They have grown to 6.36 million, of which 5.78 million are active registered voters and 579,000 inactive voters.</p> <p>Republicans have not fared as well. There were 2.84 million voters registered with the party in November 2016, increasing by only about 6,000 more voters in the latest numbers. Of those, 2.63 million were active voters while 212,000 were inactive. Unaffiliated voters, commonly referred to as “independents,” numbered 2.72 million two years ago and have increased to 2.75 million, with 2.48 million active voters and 270,000 inactive ones.</p> <p>Most of the minor parties did not see drastic change over the last four years. The Independence Party did add about 10,000 new voters to its base, reaching total of just above 491,000, and notably the Green Party added nearly 6,000 new members to its small base, reaching slightly over the 31,000 mark.</p> <p>Voter turnout also surged in primary elections this year -- there was a congressional primary in June and the state primary in September -- with several competitive Democratic races but few Republican ones. New York has more often than not seen low turnout at the polls, a trend that most expect will change this year particularly as Democrats are turning out in increasing numbers amid a nationwide “blue wave,” the electoral impact of which is yet to be seen in full, with November 6 set to show its actual impact.</p> <p>In the four years since the last statewide election, voter enrollment increased by almost 900,000, including nearly 520,000 new Democrats, about 73,000 new Republicans and more than 280,000 new unaffiliated voters.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, Senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/30833380106_11c5de4882_h.jpg" alt="30833380106 11c5de4882 h" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>New Yorkers line up to vote (photo: Edwin Torres/Mayor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Close to 160,000 New Yorkers registered with the Democratic Party in the last seven months, according to the <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/EnrollmentCounty.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">latest enrollment numbers</a> released by the State Board of Elections on Thursday, compared with just over 22,000 voters who joined the Republican Party and close to 113,000 who registered but did not pick a party affiliation. In total, there were 12.7 million registered voters across the state, an increase of about 300,000 since April.</p> <p>The numbers were released, as they typically are on November 1, just a few days before New Yorkers head to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots for governor and other statewide positions, as well as members of the state Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives, among other seats. Democrats are hoping to keep control of all the statewide positions on the ballot as well as the state Assembly, while flipping control of the state Senate and enough House seats to contribute to a takeover of that chamber nationally.</p> <p>Democrats have long maintained an overwhelming registration advantage in the state and that has only been growing in recent years, likely in part in response to the Trump presidency and the Republican-led Congress. Prior to going to the polls in November 2016, there were 6.18 million registered Democratic voters statewide. They have grown to 6.36 million, of which 5.78 million are active registered voters and 579,000 inactive voters.</p> <p>Republicans have not fared as well. There were 2.84 million voters registered with the party in November 2016, increasing by only about 6,000 more voters in the latest numbers. Of those, 2.63 million were active voters while 212,000 were inactive. Unaffiliated voters, commonly referred to as “independents,” numbered 2.72 million two years ago and have increased to 2.75 million, with 2.48 million active voters and 270,000 inactive ones.</p> <p>Most of the minor parties did not see drastic change over the last four years. The Independence Party did add about 10,000 new voters to its base, reaching total of just above 491,000, and notably the Green Party added nearly 6,000 new members to its small base, reaching slightly over the 31,000 mark.</p> <p>Voter turnout also surged in primary elections this year -- there was a congressional primary in June and the state primary in September -- with several competitive Democratic races but few Republican ones. New York has more often than not seen low turnout at the polls, a trend that most expect will change this year particularly as Democrats are turning out in increasing numbers amid a nationwide “blue wave,” the electoral impact of which is yet to be seen in full, with November 6 set to show its actual impact.</p> <p>In the four years since the last statewide election, voter enrollment increased by almost 900,000, including nearly 520,000 new Democrats, about 73,000 new Republicans and more than 280,000 new unaffiliated voters.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, Senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
An Opportunity to Offer Real Election Reform in New York City 2018-08-13T04:00:00+00:00 2018-08-13T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7864-an-opportunity-to-offer-real-election-reform-in-new-york-city Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_voting_behind_head.jpg" alt="de Blasio voting instant" width="600" height="336" /></p> <p>(photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Last Tuesday during the Ohio-12 special election, Americans found themselves angry at third party voters – again – for “wasting” their votes.</p> <p>This problem is not unique to Ohio: in multi-candidate competitive races, we see upset voters of one party or candidate hold others accountable for their loss.</p> <p>The blame should not be placed on voters -- it should be on the broken election system.&nbsp;Just look at New York City.</p> <p>New York City primaries are crowded fields, with sometimes with as many as seven people vying for one ballot line.</p> <p>Since 2009 there have been 121 primary elections in the city; 33.8% of these primaries were two-candidate races and 66.1% were more-than-two-candidate races.</p> <p>Just during last year’s primary election cycle alone there were 38 elections. While 17 of these primaries had two candidates, the remaining 21 races had more than two candidates.</p> <p>Of those 21 races, roughly 61.9% were won with less than 50% of the vote.</p> <p>By supporting Ranked Choice Voting in New York City, Mayor de Blasio can help end the blame game.</p> <p>Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to rank candidates from first to last choice on their ballots.</p> <p>A candidate who collects a majority of the vote wins. If there’s no majority, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and their votes re-allocated according to the second preference of their voters. The process is repeated until there’s a majority winner.</p> <p>It provides many benefits to voters, building majority support for candidates in multi-candidate races, inspiring voters to vote their preference - not the lesser of two evils - and avoiding costly run-offs.</p> <p>Constituents are best served when their elected representative is able to garner majority support, while the elected official benefits from a broader base of support as well.</p> <p>Ranked Choice Voting would avoid the troubling pattern of anti-democratic electoral outcomes in New York City. Candidates would move to the general election with majority support from their district.</p> <p>Right now, the mayor’s Charter Revision Commission is reviewing recommendations before making proposals for the November New York City ballot. The 15-member commission has the opportunity to help transform the way New Yorkers vote.</p> <p>History has its eyes on the them.</p> <p>***<br />Susan Lerner is the executive director of Common Cause-NY. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/commoncauseny" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@commoncauseny</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_voting_behind_head.jpg" alt="de Blasio voting instant" width="600" height="336" /></p> <p>(photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Last Tuesday during the Ohio-12 special election, Americans found themselves angry at third party voters – again – for “wasting” their votes.</p> <p>This problem is not unique to Ohio: in multi-candidate competitive races, we see upset voters of one party or candidate hold others accountable for their loss.</p> <p>The blame should not be placed on voters -- it should be on the broken election system.&nbsp;Just look at New York City.</p> <p>New York City primaries are crowded fields, with sometimes with as many as seven people vying for one ballot line.</p> <p>Since 2009 there have been 121 primary elections in the city; 33.8% of these primaries were two-candidate races and 66.1% were more-than-two-candidate races.</p> <p>Just during last year’s primary election cycle alone there were 38 elections. While 17 of these primaries had two candidates, the remaining 21 races had more than two candidates.</p> <p>Of those 21 races, roughly 61.9% were won with less than 50% of the vote.</p> <p>By supporting Ranked Choice Voting in New York City, Mayor de Blasio can help end the blame game.</p> <p>Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to rank candidates from first to last choice on their ballots.</p> <p>A candidate who collects a majority of the vote wins. If there’s no majority, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and their votes re-allocated according to the second preference of their voters. The process is repeated until there’s a majority winner.</p> <p>It provides many benefits to voters, building majority support for candidates in multi-candidate races, inspiring voters to vote their preference - not the lesser of two evils - and avoiding costly run-offs.</p> <p>Constituents are best served when their elected representative is able to garner majority support, while the elected official benefits from a broader base of support as well.</p> <p>Ranked Choice Voting would avoid the troubling pattern of anti-democratic electoral outcomes in New York City. Candidates would move to the general election with majority support from their district.</p> <p>Right now, the mayor’s Charter Revision Commission is reviewing recommendations before making proposals for the November New York City ballot. The 15-member commission has the opportunity to help transform the way New Yorkers vote.</p> <p>History has its eyes on the them.</p> <p>***<br />Susan Lerner is the executive director of Common Cause-NY. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/commoncauseny" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@commoncauseny</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
As New York Votes, a Push to Allow 17-Year-Olds the Ballot Next 2017-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 2017-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7303-as-new-york-votes-a-push-to-allow-17-year-olds-the-ballot-next Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/bobbt-carroll-presser.jpg" alt="bobbt carroll presser" width="600" height="484" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Robert Carroll at <span tabindex="0" data-term="goog_1899207167">Monday's</span> rally</p> <hr /> <p>On the eve of Election Day 2017, a state Assembly member from Brooklyn held a press conference focused on voter engagement and turnout, but it wasn’t in support of his own candidacy -- he’s not up for reelection until next year -- or anyone else’s. Instead, Assemblymember Robert Carroll was talking about his push to allow 17-year-olds to vote.</p> <p>In the state capital of Albany, Carroll recently introduced a bill, the Young Voter Act, that would allow 17-year-olds to cast ballots in state and local elections. The voting age is currently 18 for national elections and within New York. The legislation would also require that all students in public high schools receive at least eight hours of formal civics education, and that schools provide voter registration forms to students when they turn 17.</p> <p>The proposal, which Caroll will attempt to see moved when the Legislature returns to session in January, is aimed at improving New York’s dismal record of voter turnout (among the worst states in the country). On Monday, Carroll rallied in support of the bill outside the city’s Board of Elections with fellow Brooklyn Democratic Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, as well as several politically engaged high school students and advocates.</p> <p>This included the leadership of the <a href="https://yppg-ny.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Youth Progressive Policy Group</a> (YPPG), a group of students whose stated mission is to “give the youth of New York a voice in our state’s political process.” The group claims that engaging people in the electoral process early will lead to a more civically active life later on, and it is thus important to not only educate students in civics at an early age, but also to empower them to be a part of it.</p> <p>YPPG’s President, Eli Frankel, a senior at Manhattan’s Bard High School, was quick to note that 17-year-olds are productive members of civic society in other ways, and that this should be extended to voting.</p> <p>“We are organizing rallies like this, we’re going out and we’re talking to people, and a lot of 17-year-olds are contributing to their communities and have responsibilities of adulthood already,” Frankel told Gotham Gazette. “They’re paying taxes, they’re driving, some can enlist in the military. So, it’s time that voting is incorporated into those responsibilities that 17-year-olds already have so they can begin participating in government in a really substantive way so their voice is heard.”</p> <p>Chris Stauffer, YPPG’s vice chair and a senior at Bard, noted that in places where voting rights were extended to high school students, the turnout results have been very promising.</p> <p>“Sixteen- to 18-year-olds in Takoma Park, Maryland actually have double the turnout than 18- to 25-year-olds,” Stauffer told Gotham Gazette of the locality that has lowered its voting age to 16. “This is without any reform to civics education.” People who are still in high school may have fewer extraneous obligations than someone in the age bracket immediately following, where many are away from home at college, allowing them to vote with regularity and consistency and setting them up for a lifetime of civic engagement.</p> <p>Lowering the voting age alone might not be enough to spur extensive turnout among high school students and young people in general, which is why the bill includes more robust, comprehensive civics education in New York schools.</p> <p>The non-profit group Generation Citizen partners with schools in cities around the country, including New York City, to provide students with an “action civics” curriculum centered around local issues, wherein students seek to enact change in specific issue areas. Generation Citizen helps fill a gap in civics education found in many schools and school systems, but it currently operates in a relatively small percentage of classrooms.</p> <p>Civics education is often lacking in schools, especially as it relates to close-to-home politics and government.</p> <p>“A lot of civics courses focus on larger, more grand themes in American history,” Frankel said. “And the civics seminars that this bill mandates all students get really directs students on the nuts and bolts of how they can go out and vote, how they can fill out a ballot correctly, how to register to vote, how to make sure their voice is heard outside of voting, how elections work, and where they can find the information about candidates and about elections that they need to go out and turn out.”</p> <p>The bill also would provide for instant registration within schools. Schools currently have most relevant information for voter registration anyway, aside from an individual’s signature and party registration, according to YPPG Policy Director Max Shatan, a senior at Bard. This allows the process to involve minimal effort on the part of students.</p> <p>According to YPPG PR Director Ilana Cohen, a senior at the Beacon School in Manhattan, these foundational steps in schools would engage people in the process even more than simply allowing them to vote at 17.</p> <p>“Establishing the importance of voting in the classroom has a much greater effect than simply allowing teenagers to go out after high school and let them independently register to vote,” Cohen said.</p> <p>Prior to the bill’s introduction, Assemblymember Carroll sat down with some of the students at YPPG to gather input on a pre-registration bill already in the Assembly. According to Carroll’s chief of staff, Dan Campanelli, during this conversation Carroll suggested crafting a bill to lower the voting age to 17, which was ecstatically received by the students. Carroll subsequently worked on the bill with the students.</p> <p>“In this age of civic participation and interest, we need to make sure, in New York State, that we are teaching our young people what it means to be an active participant in their democracy,” Carroll said at Monday’s rally. “We teach young people all sorts of things. We teach them how to drive cars, we teach them how to take the SAT. We should teach them how to be active citizens and how to vote.”</p> <p>Although the bill has 23 co-sponsors in the 150-seat Assembly including Carroll, it would have to overcome the significant hurdle of passing the Republican-controlled state Senate, as well as to bypass a culture in Albany that is notoriously resistant to voting reform. Senate Republicans have been resistant to election reform measures that have passed the Assembly, like early voting and same-day registration. Younger voters typically skew Democratic, giving another reason for the GOP to oppose Carroll’s bill, especially as Republicans cling to the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, only due to several rogue Democrats who either caucus or form a coalition with the GOP. Though Carroll largely did not speak to its chances in the Senate, he is confident in its ability to pass the Assembly if it gets out of committee there.</p> <p>“If you are against more people accessing the ballot box, then guess what? You’re against democracy,” Carroll said Monday. “And maybe you should get out of the business of holding elected office, because that’s the point of it.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated to clarify that YPPG's members are seniors at Bard High School, not juniors.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/bobbt-carroll-presser.jpg" alt="bobbt carroll presser" width="600" height="484" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Robert Carroll at <span tabindex="0" data-term="goog_1899207167">Monday's</span> rally</p> <hr /> <p>On the eve of Election Day 2017, a state Assembly member from Brooklyn held a press conference focused on voter engagement and turnout, but it wasn’t in support of his own candidacy -- he’s not up for reelection until next year -- or anyone else’s. Instead, Assemblymember Robert Carroll was talking about his push to allow 17-year-olds to vote.</p> <p>In the state capital of Albany, Carroll recently introduced a bill, the Young Voter Act, that would allow 17-year-olds to cast ballots in state and local elections. The voting age is currently 18 for national elections and within New York. The legislation would also require that all students in public high schools receive at least eight hours of formal civics education, and that schools provide voter registration forms to students when they turn 17.</p> <p>The proposal, which Caroll will attempt to see moved when the Legislature returns to session in January, is aimed at improving New York’s dismal record of voter turnout (among the worst states in the country). On Monday, Carroll rallied in support of the bill outside the city’s Board of Elections with fellow Brooklyn Democratic Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, as well as several politically engaged high school students and advocates.</p> <p>This included the leadership of the <a href="https://yppg-ny.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Youth Progressive Policy Group</a> (YPPG), a group of students whose stated mission is to “give the youth of New York a voice in our state’s political process.” The group claims that engaging people in the electoral process early will lead to a more civically active life later on, and it is thus important to not only educate students in civics at an early age, but also to empower them to be a part of it.</p> <p>YPPG’s President, Eli Frankel, a senior at Manhattan’s Bard High School, was quick to note that 17-year-olds are productive members of civic society in other ways, and that this should be extended to voting.</p> <p>“We are organizing rallies like this, we’re going out and we’re talking to people, and a lot of 17-year-olds are contributing to their communities and have responsibilities of adulthood already,” Frankel told Gotham Gazette. “They’re paying taxes, they’re driving, some can enlist in the military. So, it’s time that voting is incorporated into those responsibilities that 17-year-olds already have so they can begin participating in government in a really substantive way so their voice is heard.”</p> <p>Chris Stauffer, YPPG’s vice chair and a senior at Bard, noted that in places where voting rights were extended to high school students, the turnout results have been very promising.</p> <p>“Sixteen- to 18-year-olds in Takoma Park, Maryland actually have double the turnout than 18- to 25-year-olds,” Stauffer told Gotham Gazette of the locality that has lowered its voting age to 16. “This is without any reform to civics education.” People who are still in high school may have fewer extraneous obligations than someone in the age bracket immediately following, where many are away from home at college, allowing them to vote with regularity and consistency and setting them up for a lifetime of civic engagement.</p> <p>Lowering the voting age alone might not be enough to spur extensive turnout among high school students and young people in general, which is why the bill includes more robust, comprehensive civics education in New York schools.</p> <p>The non-profit group Generation Citizen partners with schools in cities around the country, including New York City, to provide students with an “action civics” curriculum centered around local issues, wherein students seek to enact change in specific issue areas. Generation Citizen helps fill a gap in civics education found in many schools and school systems, but it currently operates in a relatively small percentage of classrooms.</p> <p>Civics education is often lacking in schools, especially as it relates to close-to-home politics and government.</p> <p>“A lot of civics courses focus on larger, more grand themes in American history,” Frankel said. “And the civics seminars that this bill mandates all students get really directs students on the nuts and bolts of how they can go out and vote, how they can fill out a ballot correctly, how to register to vote, how to make sure their voice is heard outside of voting, how elections work, and where they can find the information about candidates and about elections that they need to go out and turn out.”</p> <p>The bill also would provide for instant registration within schools. Schools currently have most relevant information for voter registration anyway, aside from an individual’s signature and party registration, according to YPPG Policy Director Max Shatan, a senior at Bard. This allows the process to involve minimal effort on the part of students.</p> <p>According to YPPG PR Director Ilana Cohen, a senior at the Beacon School in Manhattan, these foundational steps in schools would engage people in the process even more than simply allowing them to vote at 17.</p> <p>“Establishing the importance of voting in the classroom has a much greater effect than simply allowing teenagers to go out after high school and let them independently register to vote,” Cohen said.</p> <p>Prior to the bill’s introduction, Assemblymember Carroll sat down with some of the students at YPPG to gather input on a pre-registration bill already in the Assembly. According to Carroll’s chief of staff, Dan Campanelli, during this conversation Carroll suggested crafting a bill to lower the voting age to 17, which was ecstatically received by the students. Carroll subsequently worked on the bill with the students.</p> <p>“In this age of civic participation and interest, we need to make sure, in New York State, that we are teaching our young people what it means to be an active participant in their democracy,” Carroll said at Monday’s rally. “We teach young people all sorts of things. We teach them how to drive cars, we teach them how to take the SAT. We should teach them how to be active citizens and how to vote.”</p> <p>Although the bill has 23 co-sponsors in the 150-seat Assembly including Carroll, it would have to overcome the significant hurdle of passing the Republican-controlled state Senate, as well as to bypass a culture in Albany that is notoriously resistant to voting reform. Senate Republicans have been resistant to election reform measures that have passed the Assembly, like early voting and same-day registration. Younger voters typically skew Democratic, giving another reason for the GOP to oppose Carroll’s bill, especially as Republicans cling to the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, only due to several rogue Democrats who either caucus or form a coalition with the GOP. Though Carroll largely did not speak to its chances in the Senate, he is confident in its ability to pass the Assembly if it gets out of committee there.</p> <p>“If you are against more people accessing the ballot box, then guess what? You’re against democracy,” Carroll said Monday. “And maybe you should get out of the business of holding elected office, because that’s the point of it.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated to clarify that YPPG's members are seniors at Bard High School, not juniors.</p>
GothamTalks: Why You Should Vote in Local Elections 2017-11-03T04:00:00+00:00 2017-11-03T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7499-gothamtalks-why-you-should-vote-in-local-elections Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/gothamtalks_logo-color.png" alt="GothamTalks commentary New Leaders Council" width="600" height="144" /></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette and <a href="http://nyc.newleaderscouncil.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New Leaders Council</a> -- a nonpartisan, nonprofit leadership institute -- have partnered with <a href="http://nyxt.nyc/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Manhattan Neighborhood Network</a> to create a series of video commentaries by New York City civic activists. GothamTalks is short video essays submitted through the New Leaders Council alumni network, which consists of hundreds of New Yorkers working in advocacy, government, campaigns, nonprofits, business, law, and other aspects of city life.</p> <p>Like both the reporting we do at Gotham Gazette and the written op-ed columns we publish, the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7282-gothamtalks-commentary-new-york-city-civic-leaders" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GothamTalks</a> video commentaries range in subject, but are all meant to move the public discussion forward. Please watch, listen, and let us know what you think. Use #GothamTalks on social media, and tag us <a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@GothamGazette</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/NLC_NYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@NLC_NYC</a>.</p> <p><em>Note: The views expressed in GothamTalks are entirely those of the commentators, and not of Gotham Gazette or New Leaders Council.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">************</p> <p>November 3, 2017<br />Max Markham<br />Voting in Local Elections</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kMwE1GTHqSk" width="600" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/gothamtalks_logo-color.png" alt="GothamTalks commentary New Leaders Council" width="600" height="144" /></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette and <a href="http://nyc.newleaderscouncil.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New Leaders Council</a> -- a nonpartisan, nonprofit leadership institute -- have partnered with <a href="http://nyxt.nyc/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Manhattan Neighborhood Network</a> to create a series of video commentaries by New York City civic activists. GothamTalks is short video essays submitted through the New Leaders Council alumni network, which consists of hundreds of New Yorkers working in advocacy, government, campaigns, nonprofits, business, law, and other aspects of city life.</p> <p>Like both the reporting we do at Gotham Gazette and the written op-ed columns we publish, the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7282-gothamtalks-commentary-new-york-city-civic-leaders" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GothamTalks</a> video commentaries range in subject, but are all meant to move the public discussion forward. Please watch, listen, and let us know what you think. Use #GothamTalks on social media, and tag us <a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@GothamGazette</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/NLC_NYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@NLC_NYC</a>.</p> <p><em>Note: The views expressed in GothamTalks are entirely those of the commentators, and not of Gotham Gazette or New Leaders Council.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">************</p> <p>November 3, 2017<br />Max Markham<br />Voting in Local Elections</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kMwE1GTHqSk" width="600" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Voters Guide for the City's 2017 General Election 2017-10-25T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7274-voters-guide-for-the-2017-city-general-election Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/29371579580_504746f976_z_2.jpg" alt="de Blasio voting election" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 -- BE READY TO VOTE!</p> <p>
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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/29371579580_504746f976_z_2.jpg" alt="de Blasio voting election" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 -- BE READY TO VOTE!</p> <p>
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It’s Not Too Late to Start Paying Attention to the City Elections - Here’s How 2017-10-15T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-15T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7253-it-s-not-too-late-to-start-paying-attention-to-the-city-elections-here-s-how Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/17358963_1632433823439083_8347528747947462769_o.jpg" alt="NYC Votes voters New York City" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p>(image: NYC Votes)</p> <hr /> <p>If you’re one of many New Yorkers who have not been paying much attention to this year’s city elections, don’t worry, there’s still time to get up to speed and make informed decisions on Election Day, November 7.</p> <p>Tuesday, October 24, marked two weeks until that opportunity to vote, and after only about 14% of registered Democrats went to the polls in the September mayoral primary, it would be good for the city’s civic health if more voters cast ballots in November. (About 24% of city voters cast ballots in the last mayoral general election, in November 2013.)</p> <p>Voter turnout and election results send significant messages to our elected officials, and also to the candidates who come up short. Campaigns, consultants, candidates, and elected officials -- whether the mayor or your borough president, local City Council member or others -- know who votes and often pay attention to what voters think. Campaigns target and listen to people who have voted in the past. (One way to guarantee that your interests, preferences, and beliefs are not paid attention to is to continue not paying attention to city politics.)</p> <p>Even if you don’t have much time to dedicate to studying up, three weeks is still enough to get to know more about the candidates running for those city positions being elected this year, as well as the three questions that will be on the back of the ballot. This is direct democracy in action, and those who participate help keep our political leaders accountable, while also helping decide the direction the city heads for years to come.</p> <p>Local elected officials have many powers that directly influence everyday life, the way city services run, and the future of the city. City Council members are the local-most elected official and exist to represent you and your neighborhood -- on everything from street safety to school quality to small business policy to garbage pick-up to oversight of the NYPD, and much, much more. Along with every seat in the 51-member City Council, also on the ballot in November are the three citywide positions of Mayor, Comptroller, and Public Advocate, each Borough President position, several judicial posts, and the District Attorneys of Brooklyn and Manhattan.</p> <p>Then, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7108-there-will-be-three-big-questions-on-your-ballot-in-november" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">there are the three ballot questions</a> that each allow for a “yes” or “no” answer. Voters get to help decide whether 1) New York will hold a state constitutional convention, 2) corrupt politicians lose their pensions, and 3) small amounts of preserved upstate land can be used for vital infrastructure projects and be replaced by other new land.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there isn’t that much competition on the ballot, largely the case because it is the general election in a city home to many, many more Democrats than Republicans or members of other parties. After Democrats, the second largest group of registered voters in New York City is actually those who do not belong to any political party, and Republicans are the third largest group. Democratic primaries are often where the most action is -- something to keep in mind for the future. [<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here’s a full list of candidates</a> for all the city government posts on the ballot in November.]</p> <p>But for now, it is October, and you will have several choices to make if you choose to vote next month. There is competition for each of the three citywide positions, and plenty to brush up on with the candidates for those posts. For each, a Democratic incumbent is seeking a second term.</p> <p>There is also some competition for most of the other positions, though in many City Council races, the Democratic nominee is facing only nominal opposition. Still, it is important to look into the candidates and vote, helping to send a message, whether you are behind the eventual winner or not. Even incumbent City Council who win reelection pay attention to their vote totals and win margin, noticing if they have more work to do to win over constituents. Broadly speaking, there are <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7217-10-races-more-to-watch-in-the-general-election" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">about ten City Council races</a> that are especially worth paying attention to, but all that really matters for most voters is who is running in your district.</p> <p>If you want to start paying attention to this city election cycle, here are a few ways to get started:</p> <p>-<a href="https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check your voter registration status</a>. If you’re not registered to vote it is now too late to register to vote this November (but you should still register and get to know what’s happening this year, then get ready to vote in state level elections in 2018.)</p> <p>-Start researching the candidates for Mayor. There are seven: Democrat Bill de Blasio, Republican Nicole Malliotakis, independent Bo Dietl, Reform Party nominee Sal Albanese, Green Party nominee Akeem Browder, Libertarian Party nominee Aaron Commey, and independent Michael Tolkin.</p> <p>-Mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 1, which will be the second of two mayoral candidate debates. It is not yet clear which candidates beyond de Blasio and Malliotakis will be on the stage. It will be broadcast at 7 p.m. that night on CBS television.</p> <p>(You can catch up on the first debate by reading <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7242-de-blasio-malliotakis-dietl-engage-in-raucous-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our recap here</a>, listening to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7243-max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this recap and analysis from our podcast</a>, or watching <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/2017-debate-program-moderators-and-panelists/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the full debate</a>.)</p> <p>-Listen to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/podcasts/max-murphy-on-politics" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">other recent and past episodes of our election year podcast</a>; which includes conversations with several mayoral candidates, both major party public advocate candidates, the Republican comptroller candidate, and others.</p> <p>-The lone Public Advocate debate between Democrat Letitia James and Republican J.C. Polanco took place on October 16 -- you can <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/2017-debate-program-moderators-and-panelists/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">watch it here</a>, or read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7256-public-advocate-debate-shows-stark-differences-between-james-and-polanco" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our recap here</a>. (<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller">There are other Public Advocate candidates running.</a>)</p> <p>-The lone Comptroller debate between Democrat Scott Stringer and Republican Michel Faulkner took place on October 17 -- you can <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/2017-debate-program-moderators-and-panelists/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">watch it here</a>, or read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7260-comptroller-debate-focuses-on-stringer-s-record" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our recap here</a>. (<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller">There are other Comptroller candidates running.</a>)</p> <p>-Listen to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7259-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-the-public-advocate-comptroller-debates" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our podcast episode</a> recapping the Public Advocate and Comptroller debates and discussing the latest in the mayoral race, with Brigid Bergin of WNYC radio, from October 18.</p> <p>-Poke around <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/general-election-2017/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the NYC Votes website</a> to view the candidate video statements from various candidates, including those who are running in your City Council district and those running to be your Borough President (you can punch your address in at the NYC Votes website to get a narrowed scope of who will be on your ballot). NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter education and outreach arm of the city’s Campaign Finance Board, which oversees campaign finances and helps run the debates.</p> <p>-Take <a href="http://nycvotes.nyccfb.info/top_issue_survey?utm_campaign=sept29_funfri&amp;utm_campaign=oct13_ffsurvey1&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=nycvotes&amp;utm_source=nycvotes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this NYC Votes survey</a> and sign up for updates.</p> <p>-Read up on the three ballot questions <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7108-there-will-be-three-big-questions-on-your-ballot-in-november" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from Gotham Gazette</a> and/or <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/general-election-2017/ballot-proposals/?languageType=English" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from NYC Votes</a>.</p> <p>-As much as you can and want to, start reading regular coverage of the campaigns and city politics, in Gotham Gazette and other news outlets. Watch NY1, listen to WNYC radio.</p> <p>-Mark your calendar for November 7, Election Day, and make a voting plan.</p> <p>-<a href="https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/Search.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check your polling site</a> to see where you go to vote on November 7.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/17358963_1632433823439083_8347528747947462769_o.jpg" alt="NYC Votes voters New York City" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p>(image: NYC Votes)</p> <hr /> <p>If you’re one of many New Yorkers who have not been paying much attention to this year’s city elections, don’t worry, there’s still time to get up to speed and make informed decisions on Election Day, November 7.</p> <p>Tuesday, October 24, marked two weeks until that opportunity to vote, and after only about 14% of registered Democrats went to the polls in the September mayoral primary, it would be good for the city’s civic health if more voters cast ballots in November. (About 24% of city voters cast ballots in the last mayoral general election, in November 2013.)</p> <p>Voter turnout and election results send significant messages to our elected officials, and also to the candidates who come up short. Campaigns, consultants, candidates, and elected officials -- whether the mayor or your borough president, local City Council member or others -- know who votes and often pay attention to what voters think. Campaigns target and listen to people who have voted in the past. (One way to guarantee that your interests, preferences, and beliefs are not paid attention to is to continue not paying attention to city politics.)</p> <p>Even if you don’t have much time to dedicate to studying up, three weeks is still enough to get to know more about the candidates running for those city positions being elected this year, as well as the three questions that will be on the back of the ballot. This is direct democracy in action, and those who participate help keep our political leaders accountable, while also helping decide the direction the city heads for years to come.</p> <p>Local elected officials have many powers that directly influence everyday life, the way city services run, and the future of the city. City Council members are the local-most elected official and exist to represent you and your neighborhood -- on everything from street safety to school quality to small business policy to garbage pick-up to oversight of the NYPD, and much, much more. Along with every seat in the 51-member City Council, also on the ballot in November are the three citywide positions of Mayor, Comptroller, and Public Advocate, each Borough President position, several judicial posts, and the District Attorneys of Brooklyn and Manhattan.</p> <p>Then, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7108-there-will-be-three-big-questions-on-your-ballot-in-november" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">there are the three ballot questions</a> that each allow for a “yes” or “no” answer. Voters get to help decide whether 1) New York will hold a state constitutional convention, 2) corrupt politicians lose their pensions, and 3) small amounts of preserved upstate land can be used for vital infrastructure projects and be replaced by other new land.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there isn’t that much competition on the ballot, largely the case because it is the general election in a city home to many, many more Democrats than Republicans or members of other parties. After Democrats, the second largest group of registered voters in New York City is actually those who do not belong to any political party, and Republicans are the third largest group. Democratic primaries are often where the most action is -- something to keep in mind for the future. [<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here’s a full list of candidates</a> for all the city government posts on the ballot in November.]</p> <p>But for now, it is October, and you will have several choices to make if you choose to vote next month. There is competition for each of the three citywide positions, and plenty to brush up on with the candidates for those posts. For each, a Democratic incumbent is seeking a second term.</p> <p>There is also some competition for most of the other positions, though in many City Council races, the Democratic nominee is facing only nominal opposition. Still, it is important to look into the candidates and vote, helping to send a message, whether you are behind the eventual winner or not. Even incumbent City Council who win reelection pay attention to their vote totals and win margin, noticing if they have more work to do to win over constituents. Broadly speaking, there are <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7217-10-races-more-to-watch-in-the-general-election" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">about ten City Council races</a> that are especially worth paying attention to, but all that really matters for most voters is who is running in your district.</p> <p>If you want to start paying attention to this city election cycle, here are a few ways to get started:</p> <p>-<a href="https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check your voter registration status</a>. If you’re not registered to vote it is now too late to register to vote this November (but you should still register and get to know what’s happening this year, then get ready to vote in state level elections in 2018.)</p> <p>-Start researching the candidates for Mayor. There are seven: Democrat Bill de Blasio, Republican Nicole Malliotakis, independent Bo Dietl, Reform Party nominee Sal Albanese, Green Party nominee Akeem Browder, Libertarian Party nominee Aaron Commey, and independent Michael Tolkin.</p> <p>-Mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 1, which will be the second of two mayoral candidate debates. It is not yet clear which candidates beyond de Blasio and Malliotakis will be on the stage. It will be broadcast at 7 p.m. that night on CBS television.</p> <p>(You can catch up on the first debate by reading <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7242-de-blasio-malliotakis-dietl-engage-in-raucous-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our recap here</a>, listening to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7243-max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this recap and analysis from our podcast</a>, or watching <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/2017-debate-program-moderators-and-panelists/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the full debate</a>.)</p> <p>-Listen to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/podcasts/max-murphy-on-politics" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">other recent and past episodes of our election year podcast</a>; which includes conversations with several mayoral candidates, both major party public advocate candidates, the Republican comptroller candidate, and others.</p> <p>-The lone Public Advocate debate between Democrat Letitia James and Republican J.C. Polanco took place on October 16 -- you can <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/2017-debate-program-moderators-and-panelists/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">watch it here</a>, or read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7256-public-advocate-debate-shows-stark-differences-between-james-and-polanco" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our recap here</a>. (<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller">There are other Public Advocate candidates running.</a>)</p> <p>-The lone Comptroller debate between Democrat Scott Stringer and Republican Michel Faulkner took place on October 17 -- you can <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/2017-debate-program-moderators-and-panelists/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">watch it here</a>, or read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7260-comptroller-debate-focuses-on-stringer-s-record" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our recap here</a>. (<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller">There are other Comptroller candidates running.</a>)</p> <p>-Listen to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7259-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-the-public-advocate-comptroller-debates" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our podcast episode</a> recapping the Public Advocate and Comptroller debates and discussing the latest in the mayoral race, with Brigid Bergin of WNYC radio, from October 18.</p> <p>-Poke around <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/general-election-2017/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the NYC Votes website</a> to view the candidate video statements from various candidates, including those who are running in your City Council district and those running to be your Borough President (you can punch your address in at the NYC Votes website to get a narrowed scope of who will be on your ballot). NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter education and outreach arm of the city’s Campaign Finance Board, which oversees campaign finances and helps run the debates.</p> <p>-Take <a href="http://nycvotes.nyccfb.info/top_issue_survey?utm_campaign=sept29_funfri&amp;utm_campaign=oct13_ffsurvey1&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=nycvotes&amp;utm_source=nycvotes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this NYC Votes survey</a> and sign up for updates.</p> <p>-Read up on the three ballot questions <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7108-there-will-be-three-big-questions-on-your-ballot-in-november" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from Gotham Gazette</a> and/or <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/general-election-2017/ballot-proposals/?languageType=English" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from NYC Votes</a>.</p> <p>-As much as you can and want to, start reading regular coverage of the campaigns and city politics, in Gotham Gazette and other news outlets. Watch NY1, listen to WNYC radio.</p> <p>-Mark your calendar for November 7, Election Day, and make a voting plan.</p> <p>-<a href="https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/Search.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check your polling site</a> to see where you go to vote on November 7.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
You Can Help Boost Voter Turnout on Election Day, But You Have to Register Soon 2017-10-05T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-05T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7237-you-can-help-boost-voter-turnout-on-election-day-but-you-have-to-register-soon Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/30237613934_e09b7565df_z.jpg" alt="voting booth elections " width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In order to vote in the city’s November 7 general election -- for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President City Council, and other offices -- <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingDeadlines.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one must register with the Board of Elections</a> by Friday, October 13. For registrations by mail, registration forms must be postmarked by October 13 and received by the BOE by Wednesday, October 18. This is only for New York City residents who are not currently registered to vote.</p> <p>Since party primaries are over, prospective voters are no longer being held to party registration deadlines and regulations -- New York has a closed primary system, with party-change deadlines far in advance. To vote in November’s election, one must simply be registered, with any party or none -- those registered to vote but not with one of about 10 official political parties are called “unaffiliated” voters. They are also at times referred to as “independents” or even “blanks” because of how they leave the party registration section of the form.</p> <p>It appears that many New Yorkers have registered with the Independence Party thinking that it makes them an “independent” voter, but that is not the case.</p> <p>Notably, though, Friday, October 13 -- of this year, 2017 -- is also the deadline to change your party registration ahead of next year's 2018 state-level electoral primaries in New York. If you're already registered to vote, you can declare a party or change parties by October 13 and be eligible for voting in Democratic, Republican, or other party primaries next fall.</p> <p>Turnout on this Election Day is expected to be very low, with Mayor Bill de Blasio appearing likely to trounce his main opponents, Republican Nicole Malliotakis and independent Bo Dietl, as well as other minor candidates, including Reform Party nominee Sal Albanese, Green Party nominee Akeem Browder, and Michael Tolkin, running on his self-created Smart Cities ballot line.</p> <p>In 2013, the turnout in the general election between de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota was a meager <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news/election-2013/2013/11/06/new-york-turnout-appears-headed-for-record-low/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">24%, the lowest in the city’s modern history</a>. The 24% turnout in the general came after the Democratic and Republican primaries clocked in at <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/nyregion/20-turnout-in-new-york-primaries.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">22% and 12%</a>, respectively.</p> <p>In this year’s Democratic primary on September 12, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/de-blasio-set-win-low-turnout-democratic-mayoral-primary-article-1.3489468" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">14%</a> of registered Democrats turned out to cast ballots. This is one of the lowest Democratic primary turnouts in the city’s history; in 2009, Bill Thompson won the Democratic mayoral primary with turnout of 11%.</p> <p>This starkly low turnout in the Democratic primary comes in the wake of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7036-8-new-report-shows-shockingly-low-voter-turnout-in-nyc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">even lower turnout</a> numbers in last year’s primaries for state and federal legislative offices. In the September 2016 state legislative primary, turnout totaled 10%; in June’s congressional primary, turnout stood at a measly 8%, according to a <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/AnnualReports/BOEAnnualReport16.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> from the City’s Board of Elections.</p> <p>These numbers stood in sharp contrast to the turnout rates for the higher profile presidential contest that year: 35% of registered party members voted in April’s presidential primary, and 62% of registered voters in New York City voted in the November general election, with Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump at the top of the marquee.</p> <p>As of April 1 in New York City, there were just under 5 million registered voters. Of these, about 3.43 million were Democrats, about 522,600 were Republicans, and about 880,660 were unaffiliated with a party. Many thousands more were spread among the smaller parties, including Green, Reform, Independence, Conservative, and Working Families.</p> <p><a href="http://maristpoll.marist.edu/919-nyc-mayors-race-de-blasio-leads-malliotakis-by-47-points-mayors-approval-rating-highest-in-two-years/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A recent poll</a> for this year’s mayoral race from NBC-4 and Marist College shows de Blasio leading the pack with 65% of the vote, followed by Malliotakis at 18% and Dietl at 8%. While there are several weeks to Election Day, competitors must catch fire soon to have a chance to unseat the Democratic incumbent. The first debate -- with de Blasio, Malliotakis and Dietl -- is scheduled for Tuesday, October 10.</p> <p>New Yorkers can check their registration status <a href="https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>, check registration deadlines <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingDeadlines.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>, and see a full list of candidates for all offices in the general election <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/30237613934_e09b7565df_z.jpg" alt="voting booth elections " width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In order to vote in the city’s November 7 general election -- for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President City Council, and other offices -- <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingDeadlines.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one must register with the Board of Elections</a> by Friday, October 13. For registrations by mail, registration forms must be postmarked by October 13 and received by the BOE by Wednesday, October 18. This is only for New York City residents who are not currently registered to vote.</p> <p>Since party primaries are over, prospective voters are no longer being held to party registration deadlines and regulations -- New York has a closed primary system, with party-change deadlines far in advance. To vote in November’s election, one must simply be registered, with any party or none -- those registered to vote but not with one of about 10 official political parties are called “unaffiliated” voters. They are also at times referred to as “independents” or even “blanks” because of how they leave the party registration section of the form.</p> <p>It appears that many New Yorkers have registered with the Independence Party thinking that it makes them an “independent” voter, but that is not the case.</p> <p>Notably, though, Friday, October 13 -- of this year, 2017 -- is also the deadline to change your party registration ahead of next year's 2018 state-level electoral primaries in New York. If you're already registered to vote, you can declare a party or change parties by October 13 and be eligible for voting in Democratic, Republican, or other party primaries next fall.</p> <p>Turnout on this Election Day is expected to be very low, with Mayor Bill de Blasio appearing likely to trounce his main opponents, Republican Nicole Malliotakis and independent Bo Dietl, as well as other minor candidates, including Reform Party nominee Sal Albanese, Green Party nominee Akeem Browder, and Michael Tolkin, running on his self-created Smart Cities ballot line.</p> <p>In 2013, the turnout in the general election between de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota was a meager <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news/election-2013/2013/11/06/new-york-turnout-appears-headed-for-record-low/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">24%, the lowest in the city’s modern history</a>. The 24% turnout in the general came after the Democratic and Republican primaries clocked in at <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/nyregion/20-turnout-in-new-york-primaries.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">22% and 12%</a>, respectively.</p> <p>In this year’s Democratic primary on September 12, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/de-blasio-set-win-low-turnout-democratic-mayoral-primary-article-1.3489468" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">14%</a> of registered Democrats turned out to cast ballots. This is one of the lowest Democratic primary turnouts in the city’s history; in 2009, Bill Thompson won the Democratic mayoral primary with turnout of 11%.</p> <p>This starkly low turnout in the Democratic primary comes in the wake of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7036-8-new-report-shows-shockingly-low-voter-turnout-in-nyc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">even lower turnout</a> numbers in last year’s primaries for state and federal legislative offices. In the September 2016 state legislative primary, turnout totaled 10%; in June’s congressional primary, turnout stood at a measly 8%, according to a <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/AnnualReports/BOEAnnualReport16.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> from the City’s Board of Elections.</p> <p>These numbers stood in sharp contrast to the turnout rates for the higher profile presidential contest that year: 35% of registered party members voted in April’s presidential primary, and 62% of registered voters in New York City voted in the November general election, with Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump at the top of the marquee.</p> <p>As of April 1 in New York City, there were just under 5 million registered voters. Of these, about 3.43 million were Democrats, about 522,600 were Republicans, and about 880,660 were unaffiliated with a party. Many thousands more were spread among the smaller parties, including Green, Reform, Independence, Conservative, and Working Families.</p> <p><a href="http://maristpoll.marist.edu/919-nyc-mayors-race-de-blasio-leads-malliotakis-by-47-points-mayors-approval-rating-highest-in-two-years/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A recent poll</a> for this year’s mayoral race from NBC-4 and Marist College shows de Blasio leading the pack with 65% of the vote, followed by Malliotakis at 18% and Dietl at 8%. While there are several weeks to Election Day, competitors must catch fire soon to have a chance to unseat the Democratic incumbent. The first debate -- with de Blasio, Malliotakis and Dietl -- is scheduled for Tuesday, October 10.</p> <p>New Yorkers can check their registration status <a href="https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>, check registration deadlines <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingDeadlines.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>, and see a full list of candidates for all offices in the general election <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6676-candidates-for-2017-city-elections-mayor-city-council-comptroller" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Your Right to Vote in New York is as Vulnerable as Anywhere in the U.S. 2017-08-22T04:00:00+00:00 2017-08-22T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7145-your-right-to-vote-in-new-york-is-as-vulnerable-as-anywhere-in-the-u-s Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/32985722296_421eb35b2d_k.jpg" alt="32985722296 421eb35b2d k" width="600" height="444" /></p> <p>(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>We are in a perilous time for voting rights. Since even before President Trump’s inauguration, he has been pushing the myth of widespread voter fraud. With the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity in May, he put the power of the federal government behind perpetuating that claim. This commission is part of a larger and systematic assault on voting rights.</p> <p>Our government, both on the federal and state level, has made increasingly aggressive moves to redefine voting as a privilege rather than a fundamental right. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to make the electorate older, whiter, and more conservative by disenfranchising millions of students, low-income women and men, and people of color. Voting rights do not have the emotional appeal of some of the other dangers presented by this administration. However, our right to vote is our ability to have a say in the makeup and functioning of our government and our judicial system.</p> <p>The efforts to restrict that ability are a key component of a larger effort to perpetuate a status quo of white supremacy, of ableism, of patriarchy, of deciding whose lives matter. Even after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, African-Americans continued to be disenfranchised for close to 100 years by vigilantes and mobs through a campaign of intimidation, terror, and assassinations. The violence that recently occurred in Charlottesville must be understood in light of our past and present struggles to preserve and expand the right to vote.</p> <p>In May, Indiana enacted a law requiring a single county to consolidate precincts with fewer than 600 active voters, which would potentially eliminate half of the county’s voting precincts. The county in question, Lake County, is home to the largest Hispanic and second largest African-American population in the state. The Indiana Conference of the NAACP, supported by Priorities USA Foundation, filed a complaint challenging the law this month, arguing that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.</p> <p>We see no reason to believe that the DOJ will fight on the side of the citizens who will be disenfranchised by this law. More recently, the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reversed a position held under the Obama administration and filed a brief siding with the state of Ohio after it purged thousands of people from its voter rolls for being “inactive” after not voting in two elections. Rather than defending its citizens and working to guarantee our right to vote, the DOJ is using its significant influence to support the practice of denying eligible voters their rights. The actions join the propagation of voter ID laws and voter roll purges in states like Wisconsin, Georgia, and beyond. These attacks are as widespread as they are effective.</p> <p>The threat of voter roll purges and voter suppression now looms over the Empire State.</p> <p>Earlier this month, the New York State Board of Elections complied with a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for New York voter roll information from the President’s Commission. The BOE turned over publicly available data (name, birthdate, home address, gender, political party affiliation, and voting history). The Co-Chairs of the BOE and Governor Cuomo released strikingly similar statements justifying this release, while explaining that they remain committed to protecting New Yorkers.</p> <p>In Governor Cuomo’s statement, he referred to the commission as “a politically-motivated organization seeking to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud.” In response to questions by Brooklyn Voters Alliance members, BOE Co-Chair Douglas Kellner stated, “I have repeatedly indicated my concern that the leadership of the Presidential Commission has a track record that shows they are more interested in voter suppression rather than uncovering fraud. Nevertheless, New York law is unambiguous that any person can obtain a copy of the public voter list as long as they agree that the list will used be only for election purposes.”</p> <p>We are pleased to see our elected officials and state agencies acknowledging the real threat posed by this federal administration. However, merely acknowledging the problem is not an adequate response to the grave threat New Yorkers face.</p> <p>Despite living in a state that is known for championing progressive values, the voting rights of New Yorkers are vulnerable. And despite prior assurances by Governor Cuomo, New York is not leading in the area of voting rights.</p> <p>As the Governor has acknowledged, we have some of the most outdated election laws in the country. Yet, the state Legislature passed none of the voting reforms introduced this legislative session. It is time for actions to match the rhetoric. It is time for New York’s elected officials to counter the efforts of the Trump administration to disenfranchise Americans by providing automatic voter registration, early voting, same day voter registration, and other measures that will expand access to the ballot and make it easier for all New Yorkers to vote.</p> <p>Our rights will not be preserved by eloquent statements and voter registration drives. New York voters need full protection of our registration and voting rights. We need a government that demonstrates it will protect the voice of all of its citizens. That is why we demand meaningful voting reform.</p> <p>***<br /> Executive Committee, Brooklyn Voters Alliance: Amanda Blair, Jess Byrne, Erica Cohen, Jacques David, Nicole Hunt, Julie Kerr, Amanda Ritchie, Beth Slade, Amy Stuart<br /> Brooklyn Voters Alliance is a Brooklyn-based group of concerned citizens who want to encourage civic engagement and ensure open and fair elections for all New Yorkers.&nbsp;On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/bkvoters" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@BKVoters</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/32985722296_421eb35b2d_k.jpg" alt="32985722296 421eb35b2d k" width="600" height="444" /></p> <p>(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>We are in a perilous time for voting rights. Since even before President Trump’s inauguration, he has been pushing the myth of widespread voter fraud. With the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity in May, he put the power of the federal government behind perpetuating that claim. This commission is part of a larger and systematic assault on voting rights.</p> <p>Our government, both on the federal and state level, has made increasingly aggressive moves to redefine voting as a privilege rather than a fundamental right. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to make the electorate older, whiter, and more conservative by disenfranchising millions of students, low-income women and men, and people of color. Voting rights do not have the emotional appeal of some of the other dangers presented by this administration. However, our right to vote is our ability to have a say in the makeup and functioning of our government and our judicial system.</p> <p>The efforts to restrict that ability are a key component of a larger effort to perpetuate a status quo of white supremacy, of ableism, of patriarchy, of deciding whose lives matter. Even after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, African-Americans continued to be disenfranchised for close to 100 years by vigilantes and mobs through a campaign of intimidation, terror, and assassinations. The violence that recently occurred in Charlottesville must be understood in light of our past and present struggles to preserve and expand the right to vote.</p> <p>In May, Indiana enacted a law requiring a single county to consolidate precincts with fewer than 600 active voters, which would potentially eliminate half of the county’s voting precincts. The county in question, Lake County, is home to the largest Hispanic and second largest African-American population in the state. The Indiana Conference of the NAACP, supported by Priorities USA Foundation, filed a complaint challenging the law this month, arguing that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.</p> <p>We see no reason to believe that the DOJ will fight on the side of the citizens who will be disenfranchised by this law. More recently, the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reversed a position held under the Obama administration and filed a brief siding with the state of Ohio after it purged thousands of people from its voter rolls for being “inactive” after not voting in two elections. Rather than defending its citizens and working to guarantee our right to vote, the DOJ is using its significant influence to support the practice of denying eligible voters their rights. The actions join the propagation of voter ID laws and voter roll purges in states like Wisconsin, Georgia, and beyond. These attacks are as widespread as they are effective.</p> <p>The threat of voter roll purges and voter suppression now looms over the Empire State.</p> <p>Earlier this month, the New York State Board of Elections complied with a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for New York voter roll information from the President’s Commission. The BOE turned over publicly available data (name, birthdate, home address, gender, political party affiliation, and voting history). The Co-Chairs of the BOE and Governor Cuomo released strikingly similar statements justifying this release, while explaining that they remain committed to protecting New Yorkers.</p> <p>In Governor Cuomo’s statement, he referred to the commission as “a politically-motivated organization seeking to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud.” In response to questions by Brooklyn Voters Alliance members, BOE Co-Chair Douglas Kellner stated, “I have repeatedly indicated my concern that the leadership of the Presidential Commission has a track record that shows they are more interested in voter suppression rather than uncovering fraud. Nevertheless, New York law is unambiguous that any person can obtain a copy of the public voter list as long as they agree that the list will used be only for election purposes.”</p> <p>We are pleased to see our elected officials and state agencies acknowledging the real threat posed by this federal administration. However, merely acknowledging the problem is not an adequate response to the grave threat New Yorkers face.</p> <p>Despite living in a state that is known for championing progressive values, the voting rights of New Yorkers are vulnerable. And despite prior assurances by Governor Cuomo, New York is not leading in the area of voting rights.</p> <p>As the Governor has acknowledged, we have some of the most outdated election laws in the country. Yet, the state Legislature passed none of the voting reforms introduced this legislative session. It is time for actions to match the rhetoric. It is time for New York’s elected officials to counter the efforts of the Trump administration to disenfranchise Americans by providing automatic voter registration, early voting, same day voter registration, and other measures that will expand access to the ballot and make it easier for all New Yorkers to vote.</p> <p>Our rights will not be preserved by eloquent statements and voter registration drives. New York voters need full protection of our registration and voting rights. We need a government that demonstrates it will protect the voice of all of its citizens. That is why we demand meaningful voting reform.</p> <p>***<br /> Executive Committee, Brooklyn Voters Alliance: Amanda Blair, Jess Byrne, Erica Cohen, Jacques David, Nicole Hunt, Julie Kerr, Amanda Ritchie, Beth Slade, Amy Stuart<br /> Brooklyn Voters Alliance is a Brooklyn-based group of concerned citizens who want to encourage civic engagement and ensure open and fair elections for all New Yorkers.&nbsp;On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/bkvoters" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@BKVoters</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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