Voting rights coalition applauds City Council, Mayor, and Agency Leadership in expansion of NYC’s pro-voter law
New York, NY…The New York City Council will enact new legislation today that will strengthen provisions of Local Law 29, also known as the Pro-Voter Law, which was originally passed in 2000 to expand voter registration opportunities at municipal agencies. The legislation, introduced by Council Members Ben Kallos and Jumaane Williams, will strengthen the law’s current provisions.
“New Yorkers are seeing the impact that progressive political leadership can
have on people’s lives,” said Steven Carbo, Director of Voting Rights and
Democracy Initiatives at the Center for Popular Democracy, which helped to
convene the Pro-Voter Coalition. “In expanding access to the vote, Mayor de
Blasio. Speaker Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Kallos and Williams are
blazing the trail for other cities to follow.”
The organizations say that the enforcement and expansion of the City’s Pro-Voter
Law will be a national model for other cities to replicate fulfilling the
government’s important role in ensuring that eligible voters are registered.
Only 4.3 million of NYC’s 8.5 million residents are registered to vote.
“We are encouraged by Council Member Kallos’s bill and the potential to increase
voter registration in our City,” said Jerry Vattamala, Staff Attorney in the
Democracy Program of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “We
look forward to continuing to work with the City Council to ensure all agencies
are in full compliance with the law and that voter registration forms are
available in multiple languages for limited English proficient voters.”
The agencies covered by the Pro-Voter Law were recently found to be in gross
noncompliance with the law as uncovered by a report by the Pro-Voter Law
Coalition last month. The coalition of groups led by Center for Popular
Democracy, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Citizens Union
of the City of New York, and the New York Public Interest Research Group/NYPIRG,
found that city agencies failed to offer registration information in 84 percent
of client interactions, along with non-compliance related to language access and
training of agency staff.
“Across much of the country, reactionary legislatures have been passing laws to
restrict voters’ access to the ballot,” said Neal Rosenstein, NYPIRG’s
Government Reform Coordinator. “Here in New York, instead of fearing new voters,
the City Council is embracing them, and we strongly applaud that effort. This
measure will help strengthen our representative democracy and the city’s diverse
voice,” he added.
“Council Member Kallos’s bill is a good first step toward ensuring that New York
City’s agencies more effectively register New Yorkers to vote when they are
doing business with government agencies,” said DeNora Getachew, Campaign Manager
and Legislative Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “We look forward to
continuing to work with the City Council to bring our City’s agency-based voter
registration efforts into the 21st century. Using modern technology to register
voters would be a big leap forward that would benefit voters and agencies.”
“The City Council’s actions today to strengthen the city’s Pro-Voter Law will
ensure that the City of New York follows through to ensure that New Yorkers have
more opportunities to register to vote. We applaud the City Council and the
Mayor’s office for taking these meaningful steps toward strengthening the
existing law’s requirements that will hopefully result in a higher number of
eligible New Yorkers registering to vote or keeping their residence information
up-to-date,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union of the City
of New York.
The Pro-Voter Coalition says that in addition to the new legislation, given
sufficient home rule authority, New York City can go even further to increase
voter registration by: registering high school students; pre-registering 16 and
17 year olds to vote; allowing for early voting and Same Day Registration; and
extending the vote to non-citizens and ex-offenders.
Margaret Fung (212) 966-5932 x201, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison R. Park (917) 805-0830, email@example.com
Neal Rosenstein (917) 575-4317, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Schuster (561) 843-0197, email@example.com
Erik Opsal (646) 292-8356, firstname.lastname@example.org.