Thursday, March 3, 2016

Memo to Councilmember Richie Torres: How sacred is the right to vote in New York City? Not very.

I'm very glad to see your proposal because it gives me the opportunity to raise two mportant issues regarding voting rights in New York City.  Council member Richie Torres probably isn't aware but at least in the Harlem office of the DMV the law which allows citizens of New York to register to vote or update their voter registration when changing address, called the "Motor Voter" law is a dead letter, and a joke.

I know because circumstances have had me changing my address twice this year, and I updated my drivers license both times at the Harlem DMV. I also submitted my updated voters registration. I should have received an updated voter registration card each time. In neither instance did I receive it. I think, Councilmember Torres, that you possibly can elicit a response from both the DMV and the Board of elections to two questions: How many voter registrations have been submitted at the Harlem DMV?  How many of them have been processed?

Back in 2013 then Mayor Michael Bloomberg complained about the lack of privacy he was accorded when he went to vote. I had the same problem back in 2008, the last time I voted. The workers hovered over the voters, clearly looking at our ballots.  

I plan on voting in the upcoming New York  primary ( assuming that I can successfully update my voter registration to my current address.) I wonder whatever became of Bloomberg's complaint. Could you please follow up on it? Perhaps a large sign at each polling place notifying voters that their votes are confidential, urging voters to take videos of violations and providing a phone number for complaints (which would be staffed by a human being) would assure this supposed sacred right.

'Voting History' Bill Would Boost City's Election Turnout, Councilman Says

By Eddie Small | March 2, 2016 1:51pm

 Councilman Ritchie Torres is sponsoring a bill that would send
Councilman Ritchie Torres is sponsoring a bill that would send "voting histories" to the city's voters as a way to try increasing turnout in elections.
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New York City Council
NEW YORK CITY — Bronx CouncilmanRitchie Torres has a new idea for increasing voter turnout in the city.
The politician is the lead sponsor on a bill that would require the Board of Elections to send "voting histories" to voters, detailing the elections that they were registered to vote for over the past four years and saying whether or not they had voted in those elections.
The card would be mailed to the city's registered voters between Aug. 1 and Aug. 5 every year.
The bill, first reported by the New York Daily News, was introduced in June but just had its first hearing on Monday in the Governmental Operations Committee, and Torres' office expects it to pass within a year.

Only 25 percent of registered voters in New York City participated in the November 2014 elections, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, and a recent special election in The Bronx for a vacant City Councilseat saw roughly 3,300 out of 85,000 registered voters cast ballots.
The "voting history" bill could help increase civic engagement and voter participation, according to Torres' office.
“The purpose of the bill is to empower people to hold themselves accountable as voters," Torres said in a statement, "and to get them to think of voting not as a right but as a civic obligation."

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