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.
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!