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Monday, December 6th, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Voting Reforms

Mayor Bloomberg Votes

If New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has his way, New York State will go from nearly worst to, ideally, first in voter participation. That’s the thinking behind the four ideas which make up Mayor Bloomberg’s election reform proposal he announced this morning: early voting, filling out a ballot at home, a longer registration period and a new ballot design. These proposals followed a study commissioned by the mayor, available online.

Mayor Bloomberg has been warming up for this announcement. During his 2009 reelection campaign, he unveiled his Easy To Run, Easy To Vote election reform plan in which he endorsed the national Weekend Voting Act. Following the primary election this year, the mayor said the way the election was run was a “royal screw-up,” and he also bemoaned America’s terrible voter participation on the Today show in late September. Just last month, Mayor Bloomberg endorsed the successful Why Tuesday? San Francisco initiative to bring weekend voting to that city.

In order to make the proposed changes, the New York State legislature and governor have to approve them. For the complete press release from today’s event, see below.

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ISSUES REPORT SHOWING NEW YORK STATE LAST IN VOTER ACCESS – PROPOSES EARLY VOTING AND OTHER REFORMS TO MAKE VOTING EASIER FOR NEW YORKERS

Proposed changes to state law would create an early voting period, extend registration deadline and simplify ballot

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a set of reforms designed to make voting more convenient and flexible for all New Yorkers and issued a report showing that New York has the most restrictive election policies in the country and decades of declining voter turnout. The proposal calls for four changes to New York State election law, including: creating an early voting period; allowing New Yorkers to fill out their ballots at home and bring to a polling site; modernizing registration process and extending registration deadline from 25 days to 10 days before Election Day; and simplifying the ballot design with plain language instructions. New York is the only state in the union that does not offer any of the following voter access reforms: early voting, no excuse absentee voting, same day registration, online registration or party switch within six months of a primary. The Mayor was joined by State Senator-elect Michael Gianaris, State Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Karim Camara, Michael Benjamin and Jonathan Bing, Council Member Gale Brewer, Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., Reverend Al Sharpton, Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey, Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner, NYPIRG Senior Attorney Gene Russianoff, New York State Bar Association President Steven Younger, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program Wendy Weiser, New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo and New York City Voter Assistance Commission Executive Director Onida Coward Mayers.

“Voter turnout in elections for all levels of government is unacceptably low, and the State’s antiquated election laws are part of the problem,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Reforms like early voting and extended registration deadlines will help New Yorkers make their voices heard.”

The report issued by Mayor Bloomberg found that New York’s election laws are the most restrictive in the country. New York is among only four states with closed primaries that have not adopted any policies to expand voter access. These include same day registration, online registration, no-excuse absentee voting or early voting. Among these four most restrictive states, only New York requires voters to wait more than a year to vote in a party primary after changing party affiliations.

Continue reading for proclamations of support for Mayor Bloomberg’s plan. (more…)

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Bloomberg: Thumbs Up To San Fran Weekend Voting

Bloomberg Voting

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today added another election reform endorsement to his growing list. The mayor is supporting the San Fransisco effort to implement weekend voting inspired by Why Tuesday? and our work around the country. Below is the full press release we sent out with details about Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement.

NYC MAYOR BLOOMBERG ENDORSES SAN FRANSISCO “SATURDAY VOTING ACT”

Endorsement Follows Bloomberg’s Earlier Support Of National “Weekend Voting Act”

“Proposition I” Is On The November 2nd Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO – New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is lending his name to an effort to increase voter turnout by making it easier for voters to get to the polls. Mayor Bloomberg today endorsed San Francisco’s Proposition I, known as the “Saturday Voting Act.” If Proposition I passes on November 2nd, it would require San Francisco to open all polling places on the Saturday before the November 2011 election, in addition to the traditional Tuesday Election Day. The Saturday Election Day would be funded by private donations, all of which would be made public on the Department of Elections website. San Francisco’s “Saturday Voting Act” was inspired by the work nationally of WhyTuesday.org a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) committed to increasing American voter turnout.

Mayor Bloomberg has long been a supporter of national election reforms. In September 2009, Mayor Bloomberg announced his “Easy to Vote, Easy to Run” national election reform plan. In it the Mayor called on Congress to pass the Weekend Voting Act, sponsored by Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Congressman Steve Israel of Long Island, which seeks to shift national Election Day from Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday. In polls and in United States Census data, the majority of voters who failed to vote blamed the inconvenience of Election Day.

“Voters in San Francisco have a great opportunity this Election Day to be national leaders on an issue that a growing number of Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all supporting: weekend voting,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By passing the Saturday Voting Act, San Francisco voters will become the first major city in the country to allow voters to cast their ballots in municipal elections on the weekend. I support bringing weekend voting to New York City, and I look forward to working with local civic and community leaders to develop our own weekend voting proposal. Voter participation is crucial to a healthy democracy. By giving busy voters more opportunities to cast their ballots, we can help increase participation. And San Francisco voters would still have the option of voting on the traditional Tuesday Election Day. Weekend voting is an idea whose time has come – and San Francisco can help lead the way.”

“If we really want to increase access to the democratic process, especially for working families and single parents, we should do what the rest of the world does and vote on the weekend,” said Alex Tourk, founder of WhyTuesdaySF.org. “I just think it’s the right thing to do, and it’s an honor that leaders like Mayor Bloomberg are joining this effort and drawing attention to the fact that holding elections mid-week, when the working class has the most obligations, is a good indication that our electoral system is antiquated.”

“We are thrilled Mayor Bloomberg continues to act as a megaphone for increasing America’s dismally low voter participation,” said Jacob Soboroff, executive director of WhyTuesday.org. “The Mayor’s commitment to making election reform an issue our national and local leaders cannot afford to avoid is a quality too few of our elected representatives share today.”

ABOUT WHY TUESDAY?

Why Tuesday? is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 organization founded in 2005 to raise awareness about the state of America’s voting system and to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections. Using Web 2.0 technology, Why Tuesday? provides a platform for national dialogue about the current voting system, problems with our current voting system, and solutions that can directly improve the voting process, increase registration and drive turnout. The Why Tuesday? documentary video blog has been seen millions of times across multiple online and traditional media platforms, including national news outlets. Why Tuesday? was the recipient of the Film Your Issue Award as well as being the only non-mainstream news outlet nominated for the 2008 Webby Award for Best Political Blog.

Photo of Mayor Bloomberg voting via LIFE.

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

NYC Election Board’s “Royal Screw-Up”

NYC Election

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wasn’t happy with the way the city’s new electronic voting machines debuted (or didn’t) this Tuesday. We’ve been following the change-over to these new machines (and Mayor Bloomberg’s election reform plan) for some time. The mayor didn’t hold back his feelings when it came to mishaps on Election Day. Here’s a transcript via WNYC.

Today, unfortunately, we are hearing disturbing reports that some polling sites have been very disturbing.

We’ve been told of some polling sites that opened two to four hours late.

That is a royal screw-up – and it’s completely unacceptable.

It means some voters waited for hours – and other voters may not have a chance to cast their ballots at all.

We’ve also gotten reports of broken and missing scanners, emergency ballots, and poor customer service.

Other counties have also experienced problems, but I’m not sure any of them have been as severe as we’ve seen in our five boroughs.

Over the past five years, the City has provided the Board of Elections with more than $77 million to make the transition to the new machines – and that doesn’t include the $85 million in federal funds used to purchase the new machines.

But there is a total absence of accountability for how the Board performed on Election Day – because the Board is a remnant of the days when Tammany Hall ran New York.

New Yorkers deserve better than this – and the time has come to fix it. And let me repeat that for our Spanish speaking audience:

Los neoyorquinos merecen mejor – y ha llegado la hora de arreglarlo.

We owe that to all of you – and to every voter.

No democracy is perfect, but the more people participate in civic life, the stronger that the democracy is.

And that’s why voting is so important – and that’s why the commitment we’re making today is so important – and I just want to thank all of you here and wish you all the best of luck. I wish our Board of Elections had performed as well as all of you guys are going to do.

For WNYC’s complete blog post about Mayor Bloomberg’s reaction, click here.

Photo of NYC on Election Day via Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times.

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Why Tuesday? At The 92nd Street Y

Why Tuesday? 140 Conf

Tomorrow at 10AM at the 92nd Street Y in New York City come to my 140 Characters Conference panel Fixing Our Voting System One Tweet At A Time. 

I’ll be moderating with my Executive Director of Why Tuesday? hat on and we’ll be talking about how technology has a role to play in election reform. The panelists will be:

  • Joe Trippi, social media, business and political consultant; Former Howard Dean campaign manager; author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
  • Debra Bowen, California Secretary of State
  • Nancy Scola, associate editor at Tech President; creator of Twitter Vote Report
  • Steve Grove, head of YouTube news and politics

For the complete conference schedule which includes some awesome speakers and big names, click here.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

NYC: Goodbye, Lever Voting

Lever Machine

In May, we brought you the story of how New York State was atwitter – in reality and online – about how best to ditch a vestigial organ of elections past: the lever voting machine. Today New York City is finally doing it, and not without further debate, David W. Chen reports this morning for the New York Times.

After years of delays and fierce lobbying, the city’s Board of Elections on Tuesday afternoon selected Election Systems and Software, an Omaha company, to provide new electronic voting machines in time for the September 2010 primary.

Voters will now be required to fill out paper ballots with ovals, similar to SAT exams, before feeding them into a fax-like scanner.

The change means that New York City will finally be in compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. That law was passed to avoid a repeat of the recount debacle in Florida after the 2000 presidential election, and to help disabled people vote.

For more on the switch, read the complete story here.

You can watch me watching others attempt to use the machines that led to the Help America Vote Act of 2002 in this vlog. Hope you have a laugh.

Photo of NY lever voting machine via the schneider clan on Flickr.

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Baruch College Seminar

Seminar Flyer

Please join me and these other awesome speakers Tuesday in NYC from 4-6PM for this event at Baruch College! I’ll be talking about how nonprofits can use online video like we did at Why Tuesday? – and more. No promises about how to interview President Obama, though. You can RSVP online here. Click the image above for a bigger version.

About Us

Why Tuesday? is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections... More

The Answer

In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote... More

Recent Comments

In France they last voted on a Sunday. France is despite the Bourbon legacy a largely Catholic country, yet they vote on Sunday...

Posted by Patrick on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

I think weekend voting would make the most sense, as people wouldn't have tu run home after work or wake up early to hit the polling stations beforehand.

Posted by Zander on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

Sunday would be inconvenient for Christians. We should, 1. Move the voting day to Saturday. 2...

Posted by John on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?