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Despite the numerous challenges besieging voters this year—due to the pandemic and systemic voter suppression—this fall’s election produced record voter turnout, with Joe Biden winning more votes than any Presidential candidate in the history of our country. Kamala Harris also made history, as she’ll become the first woman and person of color to be elected vice president.

Here in New York, we had Early Voting for the first time in a Presidential election. Again, despite the challenges, such as long lines at polling sites, New Yorkers demonstrated their temerity, and over 1.1 million voted early.

There’s still much work to be done in getting more Americans politically engaged, but this momentous election is a reaffirming sign that our country and democracy are headed in the right direction.




Betsy Gotbaum

Executive Director, Citizens Union/Citizens Union Foundation


Building on the Success of Early Voting!
Over the course of nine days, 1.1 million New York City residents took advantage of early voting—a policy Citizens Union has championed for years. Unfortunately, too many voters had to wait in long lines for hours. Long lines at the polls are an unacceptable form of voter suppression that no American should have to endure.

Due to this obstacle, the Board of Elections did increase voting hours for the last three days of early voting. However, ahead of the crucial New York City elections next year, the Board must increase the number of poll sites, ensure that they’re adequately staffed, and have the proper equipment to make the process quick and easy. 

Because of a new law that allowed no excuse absentee voting due to the pandemic, over 700,000 New Yorkers voted absentee. This temporary legislation should be made permanent. Citizens Union encourages the legislature to pass this bill again when they reconvene; so that New Yorkers have this option in every election. 
It’s Time to Reform the Board of Elections

While the New York City Board of Elections deserves credit for administering this election under incredibly difficult circumstances, there were some missteps. The organization is overwrought and needs to be reformed systemically and structurally. 

For decades, the bipartisan structure of the Board of Elections has failed voters. It was sharply evident this year that the politically chosen patronage hires overseeing our elections need to be replaced by better trained election administrators. Upon reconvening, it would behoove the legislature to finally begin the process of reforming our Board of Elections, so it is focused on assisting voters, not protecting incumbent politicians. 

How CU-backed Candidates Fared This November
For the first time in our history, Citizens Union made a presidential endorsement. Thankfully, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will serve as the next President and Vice President—ushering in a restoration of decency and rule of law to the White House.

Citizens Union-supported Senator Andrew Gounardes, and Assembly Members Rebecca Seawright and Mathylde Frontus will return to the legislature. Unfortunately, Brandon Patterson was defeated in his Assembly race to represent parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn. Despite his loss, Brandon should be commended for running a strong issue-focused campaign.



On October 22nd, Citizens Union had the distinct pleasure of honoring Claudia Romo Edelman, Richard Edelman and Roberta Kaplan. We also enjoyed a fireside conversation between Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and our own CUF Board Member, John Avlon. Although we could not be together in person this year, we enjoyed this virtually experience with all of you. Seeing all of your faces and all of the lovely comments in the chat made the times at the Pierre not seem so far away. If you missed this different but truly special event you can see the video here. And if you would like to support Citizens Union moving into our next chapter click the button below!




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Bills Would Further Restrict Coordination Between City Candidates and Independent Expenditure Campaigns

Samar Khurshid


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