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Election Day countdown: What voters need to know


NEW YORK -- In just one week, New York voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots for statewide and judicial races as well as three citywide proposals.

Common Cause/NY is advising voters about what to do if they experience problems at the polls. For example, if voters find themselves unexpectedly purged from the rolls, Common Cause/NY encourages demanding an affidavit ballot so they can vote and be reactivated on the rolls. Additionally, 1-866-OUR-VOTE is an election protection hotline available on Election Day.
Common Cause/NY is also collecting stories, good and bad, from voters. New Yorkers can share here.

"In the September primary, many voters experienced confusion or obstacles to voting. People who had voted as recently as June could not vote again three months later either because they'd been falsely listed as inactive or involuntarily disenrolled from their party," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "One week before the election, we are proactively reaching out to voters about what to do if they experience a problem at the polls. But lawmakers need to let New York vote by passing key reforms like Early Voting, Automatic Voter Registration, and pre-registration of 16 and 17-year-olds so we can catch up with dozens of other states that already offer accessible, safe elections."

This year, Let NY Vote, formerly known as Easy Elections NY, formed as a statewide coalition of organizations & grassroots groups fighting to modernize New York's elections. The goal is to pass simple solutions in 2019 to improve our elections and remove barriers to registering and voting for all eligible New Yorkers, such as:
  • Early Voting: in place in 37 other states, allowing citizens to cast ballots in person days, sometimes weeks, before an election.
  • Automatic Voter Registration: in place in 16 other states, allows eligible voters to automatically register to vote and provides a vehicle for state agencies to efficiently transfer voter registration information to the Board of Elections.
  • Flexibility to Change Parties: 49 States have open primaries or allow voters to change of their party close to Election Day. New York has neither.​ ​Instead, New York has the most restrictive deadline in the country. To participate in the 2018 primary voters had to register this change more than 6 months earlier, before candidates had even been solidified, disenfranchising up to 3 million registered NY voters.
  • Pre-registration of 16 and 17-year-olds: 13 states plus DC allow for pre-registration for voting at 16 and 17 years old. Pre-registration increases the likelihood of voter participation among young adults. Engaging potential voters at a young age and bringing them into the voting process early helps create lifelong voters.
Additionally, Common Cause/NY supports the passage of the Voter Friendly Ballot Act, which would create a ballot layout that is easy for voters to read and use, requiring the use of sans serif type, removing the requirement that each row on the ballot have an image of a closed fist and extended finger, and printing the names of candidates using a font size larger than 9-point font, among others.


On Primary Day last month, 27% of registered voters turned out to vote – almost double the numbers from the 2014 primary.

Of the 1.5 million people who voted, too many experienced problems at the polls.
Over 125 New Yorkers shared their election day story with Common Cause/NY on or after the primary. 70% of voters who contacted Common Cause/NY reported having trouble on election day:
  • Slightly more than half of affected voters reported not being on the voter rolls, despite the fact that many are long time registered voters or had voted within the last year.
  • Numerous voters reported issues at their poll site, from missing pollbooks, to broken voting machines and missing signage, or poorly trained staff.
  • Dante de Blasio, Mayor de Blasio's son, encountered perennial incompetence from the BOE.
  • 19.3% of voters contacting Common Cause/NY reported an unauthorized change in party affiliation from the Democratic party to the Reform party or to unaffiliated status.
  • As a follow-up analysis, CCNY reviewed the voter file and found that 338 super-prime Democrats appear to have had their party affiliation changed between the federal and state primary this year.
The Let NY Vote coalition is made up of over thirty organizations, nonprofits, and labor unions, including Common Cause/NY, Public Citizen, New York State United Teachers, SEIU 32BJ, RWDSU, CWA District 1, as well as the statewide NAACP and the National Action Network, grassroots organizations, faith groups, civil liberties, reproductive and immigrant rights, criminal justice and re-entry groups, New American, and the LGBTQ community. A full list is available at letnyvote.org.

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