Common Cause/NY and Partners Roll Out Voting Accessibility Plan
Common Cause/NY, NYCCFB, LWV launch poll site locator via 311, accurate signage at old poll sites and Russian and Haitian Creole interpreters
NEW YORK, NY (11/01/2017) (readMedia)-- With Election Day less than a week away, Common Cause/NY in partnership with the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) and League of Women Voters (LWV) announced a plan to ensure voting is accessible to all New Yorkers.
The new plan will:
- Allow voters to call 311 directly to learn their poll site locations.
- Supply Russian and Haitian Creole interpreters at select poll sites.
- Place signs at former poll sites, alerting voters that the location has changed.
"You can't vote if you don't know where your poll site is. This plan is a step forward for New York City and voter accessibility. Common Cause/NY is thrilled to partner with the League of Women Voters and the NYC Campaign Finance Board to help make voting more accessible for all New Yorkers, no matter where you live or if you speak a language not recognized by the BOE," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
Twenty percent of the city's poll sites have changed since 2016, causing confusion and chaos for many eligible voters. Despite a law that requires the Board of Elections (BOE) to post signs at old poll-site locations whenever they move, BOE has failed to comply.
"NYC Votes engages New Yorkers in the electoral process and making election information accessible to all New York City voters is key to achieving that mission. We are excited to join with Common Cause NY and the League of Women Voters of the City of New York to make locating a poll site easier on Election Day. In addition to looking up their poll site online at http://voting.nyc/, voters can now call 311 to learn where they should go vote," said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the NYC Campaign Finance Board. "We encourage all New Yorkers to exercise their civic duty and vote for the city they want on November 7th."
Currently depending on the borough, some non-English speaking voters may be assisted by a poll worker or any person they choose to help them read the ballot. Despite many Russian and Haitian Creole speakers in New York City, the NYCBOE does not make available interpreters because Russian and Haitian Creole do not meet certain population threshold that would trigger federal Voting Rights Act Sec. 4 requirements. In an effort to include all New Yorkers in the voting process, NYCCFB is staffing select poll sites with these interpreters provided by special funding from the City.
"The League of Women Voters' mission is always pressing the Board of Elections to do better and serve the voters," said Cathy Gray, Co-President of the League of Women Voters.
Previously, if a voter wanted to find his/her poll site, a 311 operator would connect him or her to the NYCBOE. Now, voters can learn their poll sites from a 311 operator directly.
Last week, the New York City Board of Elections (NYCBOE) settled a lawsuit with Common Cause/NY, admitting it broke state and federal law when it purged nearly 200,000 voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary in April 2016.
In the settlement, NYCBOE agreed to:
- Place the NYC BOE under a consent decree that will last at least through the November 2020 election.
- Adopt detailed procedures to ensure that eligible voters are not designated for removal in error, identify procedures used for reinstating improperly removed voters, and produce monthly and annual reports identifying the voters who are being removed the rolls or otherwise subjected to list maintenance.
- Develop a centralized process allowing the NYC BOE to review voter registration data from borough offices, adopt a training program for list maintenance, and update training manuals and materials.
- Conduct an annual audit of list maintenance procedures, and permit the New York Attorney General's office to conduct semi-annual audits.
- Other enforcement remedies, such as allowing Plaintiffs the ability to object to Board rules or regulations related to list maintenance that fails to ensure compliance with federal law.
Common Cause/NY is also a member of Easy Elections NY: a statewide coalition of grassroots groups and established organizations fighting to modernize New York's elections. Currently, New York lags behind many states in voting reform, ranking 41st in voter turnout out of all 50 states. 37 states already have some form of Early Voting, leaving New York as one of only 13 states without any means to vote early except via absentee ballot. New York does not have any form of Automatic Voter Registration either. Automatically registering eligible voters encourages civic participation, and provides a vehicle for state agencies to efficiently transfer voter registration information to the Board of Elections.