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Dear Friend,

2019 – what a year! From our many long-fought victories for reform, to our record-setting Gotham Greats Dinner, to the generosity of our friends in our end-of-year giving campaign, I thank you. Your support and solidarity will sustain our work as we head into 2020. 
And 2020 is already off to a strong start. Last week the State Senate passed Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), important legislation that will help expand and protect the right to vote in New York State and is yet another reform, long-advocated for by Citizens Union Members, that is finally being enacted. You can read more in our policy update below. 
2020 will be a historic year for our organization, with important work to do in Albany, crucial state elections, the Census and more.  Thank you for all you do.


Betsy Gotbaum
Executive Director, Citizens Union/Citizens Union Foundation


Policy Update


Elections, Voting Reform and More

While all eyes are on the 2020 Presidential race, on the local level there will be many important elections, including all state Senate and Assembly seats. In addition, in 2020 many of the voting reforms that passed in 2019 will be implemented and CU and our members will monitor that process. We want to be sure that all New Yorkers, including New Yorkers on parole (we are advocating for the restoration of their voting rights to be codified into law), are able to participate in these historic elections. We also want to be sure that the reforms are enacted in such a way that the elections are still able to run smoothly.
Some of 2019’s historic reforms, long-championed by our members, include early voting, consolidated federal and local primaries, portable voter registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds. Building on that momentum, just last week the Senate passed more crucial pro-democracy reforms – Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) and legislation requiring polling sites on college campuses. (See photo of Thursday’s press conference at the Capital above).

Under AVR all eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are automatically registered to vote (or have their existing registration information updated), unless they decline. AVR increases the number of voters who can participate in the electoral process, and ensures voting rolls be more accurate. In the states that utilize AVR, these benefits have been shown to save money. The other reform which passed the Senate on January 9 requires the placement of polling sites on college campuses with 300 or more registered voters.  These sites will make it easier for students to vote, and is a necessary step to increasing civic engagement among New York State’s youngest voters. Citizens Union is proud to have supported these two bills and urges the Assembly to pass them and Governor Cuomo to sign them into law. Read our press release here.

Census 2020

CU is also turning its focus to the 2020 Census to ensure that we have the most accurate count possible. We want to say thank you to our partners at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) who provided significant support to our efforts. NYIC received funding from the State to re-grant to groups on the ground, like CU, that are assisting with ‘getting-out-the-count’. Specifically, CU’s focus is with New York legislators to ensure they are doing all they can to have a high and accurate response rate in districts throughout the city and state. Mark your calendars: the first mailings for the census will begin to arrive in mailboxes in mid-March and you will have the option to respond online, via the phone, using a paper form or with an in-person census worker.  For an FAQ on the census visit HERE. For a quick video about why the census is so important visit HERE.  Please share this FAQ and this video with your friends and family!


Save The Date 


CU in the News 

New York Daily News 12/11/19
Alleged Gambino mob family affiliates give thousands to Bronx Councilman Mark Gjonaj

New York Daily News – 12/9/19
Pseudo newspaper focused on Brooklyn beep Eric Adams reaps ad revenue while taxpayers foot bill for postage

Brooklyn Eagle  – 12/12/19
Critical component of jail plan concealed from the public for ‘optics’: sources

Albany Times Union – 12/17/19
Good government group calls for lawmakers to throw out public financing report

Gotham Gazette 12/20/19
Criticism Grows as State Campaign Finance Plan Head Towards Law


Thank You!

Judy Stanton, CU Member for 18 Years!

Since 2002, Judy Stanton has been a CU Member, and a generous supporter of the Foundation and Gotham Gazette. She first joined CU because of her friendship with our former Executive Director, but also, because of our “mission of reform.” Previously working as the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Neighborhood Association, when she retired, she was able to increase her time spent as a CU member, joining the Local Candidates Committee (LCC). She’s now been an active member of the LCC and participated in the efforts to evaluate and recommend candidates for over five years. Of all our committees, she chose to join the LCC because she wanted to be informed and to inform her neighborhood and community about candidates and issues. She told us “CU’s endorsement is highly sought after and we have a crucial role to play in being the voice of reform policy and of the issues that affect New Yorkers.” She continues to support all of our work as a member, and more, because she hopes that the organization can continue to grow. We thank Judy for her membership, and years of support!  If you are not a CU Member, but would like to be, join here.

Photo – Judy Stanton with U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez. Photo credit: Daniel Wiley


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