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Kavanagh Joins Mayor to Call for Reforms to Make Elections Fairer & More Open

October 13, 2016

Fact Sheet: Mayor de Blasio Calls on Albany to Make Elections Fairer and More Open for All

Mayor also calls on federal government to clear citizenship application backlog to ensure America’s newest voters are able to register for November 8 election

Conducting free and fair elections is a sacred duty of government, yet in New York State, the way we hold elections is outdated, underfunded and seems designed to discourage participation. We’re here to say that in New York City we’re fighting for every voice to be heard. While we push to register as many New Yorkers as possible before tomorrow’s voter registration deadline, we need to make our call loud and clear: our system needs to be fairer and more open if we want our democracy to be a representative one,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio."

NEW YORK––Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio met with New Yorkers in Brooklyn to talk about voting reforms that could make New York’s electoral system fairer and more open, and to help register students and community residents ahead of Friday’s voter registration deadline. The Mayor was joined by volunteers from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit as part of City Hall’s outreach efforts to help sign up eligible voters who have yet to register before Friday’s deadline. There are currently two million eligible but unregistered voters in New York.

The Mayor also called for the federal government to clear the citizenship application backlog of more than 57,000 pending applications in the New York and Queens USCIS service centers, and more than half a million nationwide, in order for those residents to register and vote in the November 8 election.

This year, the City has increased accessibility to voter registration for citizens with limited English proficiency by providing translated versions of the voter registration form in 11 new languages at www.nyccfb.info. In addition to the four translations that were already available – Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali – the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and the Campaign Finance Board have now provided translations in Russian, Haitian Creole, Arabic, French, Urdu, Albanian, Greek, Tagalog, Yiddish, Polish, and Italian. These efforts ensure that over 90 percent of limited English proficient eligible voters in New York City are able to register to vote on a form in their language.

FAIRER, MORE OPEN ELECTIONS

The Mayor called for the passage of a slate of reforms at the state level that would make New York’s voting process fairer and more open.By removing barriers to absentee and early voting, cutting down lines at the polls, making registration and voting easier and more streamlined, we can ensure that every New Yorkers’ vote counts and stop preventing voters from casting their ballot due to unavoidable employment, health care or family responsibilities.

These reforms include:

Allow Same-Day Voter Registration

  • This legislation would remove the requirement in the State Constitution that requires voter registration no later than 10 days before Election Day.
  • This reform would allow eligible voters to register on the day of Election Day, ensuring more voices are heard at the polls.
  • Thirteen states and the District of Colombia have same-day voter registration.

Early Voting Measures

  • Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia provide for in-person early voting or mail-in voting. New York State does not.
  • Legislation should be passed to allow New York to employ methods of early voting including vote by mail, “no-excuse” absentee voting and early in-person voting.

“No Excuse” Absentee Voting

  • Currently, in order to vote absentee in New York State, a voter must have one of several permissible reasons, such as being out of New York City on Election Day, temporary illness or disability.
  • This proposal would remove all of the conditions precedent for absentee ballots and allow voters to request an absentee ballot as an alternative to in-person voting.

Electronic Poll Books

  • This legislation would authorize the use of electronic poll books to ease the voting process and mitigate the issue of long waits at voting sites.
  • Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia already use electronic poll books.

Consolidation of Primary Elections

  • This legislation would consolidate all of the primary elections into one day, making it easier and more streamlined for New York residents to vote in primary elections.
  • This legislation would amend the Federal Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which currently requires the State to conduct two primary elections, or three in presidential years. This is very costly to local boards of election as well as confusing and burdensome to voters

Ballot Usability

  • Reformatting the way ballots are laid out – including font size, placement of instructions, placement of candidate names – can make them more legible and user-friendly for voters.

  • This legislation would make it easier to read a ballot and reduce errors in voting.

Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds

  • This proposal would allow 16- and 17-year olds the opportunity to pre-register to vote, including in schools at the time that students register for class selection each year. The preregistration would be optional.

  • Once registered, the local board at elections shall maintain registration on file and registration shall automatically become active when the registrant turns 18 years of age.

CITIZENSHIP BACKLOG

The Mayor called for the federal government to clear the large backlog of pending naturalization applications.

Backlog

  • There are currently more than 57,000 pending applications in the New York and Queens USCIS service centers, and more than half a million nationwide. Many immigrants who applied for citizenship months ago will be unable to register to vote without swift federal action.
  • The de Blasio Administration calls on the federal government to process pending applications as quickly as possible to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers are able to vote.

Two week extension for recent citizens

  • Immigrants who naturalize after the October 14 voter registration deadline can still register to vote in the November 8 election. These new citizens must register in person at their borough’s Board of Elections office no later than October 29.

FACILITATING VOTER REGISTRATION

There are currently 2 million eligible but unregistered voters in New York State. The de Blasio Administration is fighting to ensure every vote counts this Election Day by streamlining the process, engaging voters and making it simpler for voters of all languages to register. Below are a few of the de Blasio Administration’s wide reaching efforts to increase voter participation.

Voter registration forms in more languages

  • New Yorkers can now access registration forms in a total of 16 languages at voting.nyc.
  • In addition to the four translations that were already available – Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bangla – the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and the Campaign Finance Board have now provided translations in Russian, Haitian Creole, Arabic, French, Urdu, Albanian, Greek, Tagalog, Yiddish, Polish, and Italian.
    Voters can access the forms at voting.nyc.
  • These efforts ensure that over 90 percent of limited English proficient eligible voters in New York City are able to register to vote on a form in their language.

Voter registration during civil service exams

 DCAS provides direct electronic access to voter registration for all who sign up for civil service exams and the City is in process of adding additional agencies.

Voting.nyc

The Campaign Finance Board launched “voting.nyc” to provide easy access to all voting related services.

#NoshTheVote

  •  City Hall’s #NoshTheVote campaign, inspired by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s “GuacTheVote” voter registration drive, stationed volunteers at 12 food trucks across the five boroughs on Tuesday, October 11 to help register more New Yorkers and raise awareness that there is still time to register to vote in the November 8 election.
  • Volunteers distributed hundreds of forms to New Yorkers, and raised awareness across the five boroughs.
  • Voter drive efforts continue across the city through our agencies and partner organizations.

LinkNYC

LinkNYC is helping to get out the vote by making registering to vote on Links easier than ever for New Yorkers on the go. LinkNYC launched a redesigned tablet homepage, which links directly to the New York State DMV’s Electronic Voter Registration Application page.

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