“Pop up” Voter Registration Kits

Sitting in a park? Doing outside dining with friends or family? How about putting up a sign asking New Yorkers to vote? We have made 8 kits to distribute to BVA members who are interested (and comfortable) with doing in-person voter registration this summer. Kits will be distributed this Sunday, 7/19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Prospect Park. 

If you are interested and can commit to conducting registration efforts, please send an email to bkvotersalliance@gmail.com or a message through our contact us page by this Sunday, at 11 a.m. with your name and a brief blurb of the type of voter registration events/opportunities you will be conducting. If you cannot pick up a kit this Sunday, please still get in contact with us and we will arrange for pick up.

Voter registration efforts do not need to be formal and can be as simple as putting up a sign while you sit in the park with some friends. Only volunteer if you are comfortable with in-person voter registration. We will increase our digital registration efforts as we get closer to the election. We will also arrange virtual voter registration training if you are new to voter registration. Contact bkvotersalliance@gmail.com

Each kit contains: 

If you do not receive a kit from us or are willing and able to make your own, please reference this DIY guidePlease let us know if you schedule any voter registration events or efforts so that we can add these events to our central calendar and put out a request for volunteers (if needed). 

CALL TO ACTION: Call the State Majority Leaders & Your Elected Representative

Next week the New York State legislature will resume operations in a rare – and brief – summer session. This is our best opportunity to pass voting rights legislation prior to the November election. As you may or may not remember, 2016 was a mess (and with pandemic, 2020 is not in great shape) so please take five minutes out of your day and help secure our election. Members of the Let NY Vote coalition are making calls all week to push for legislation to help New Yorkers register to vote and vote safely and more easily, and to make sure votes are counted. Below, you will find information about our asks and numbers to call. In addition to calling, please post comments of support on specific State Senate bill pages (links below). Such comments are another way to let the legislature know that We the People want our right to vote protected and want to be able to vote safely and securely during the upcoming election.

We are making calls to the state legislature to request that they pass legislation:

Voting Absentee

• Expanding the right to vote absentee due to the current Covid-19 pandemic in the November election

• Requiring the Board of Elections to accept absentee ballots received by the Board of Elections seven days after the election (with or without a postmark)

Currently, ballots without a postmark and received after the deadline are not counted. Voters should not be beholden to an overburdened Post Office or any disagreements over postmarking responsibilities. The presumption should be that the voter submitted their ballot on time.

• Enabling absentee ballot tracking

• Providing for return postage for absentee ballot envelopes

• Requiring a designated drop box for absentee ballots returned to poll sites during early voting and on election day

Registering Voters

• Enabling NYC voters to actually use its ready-to-use online voter registration portal to register voters

Early Voting

• Expanding early voting hours on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before election day

• Increasing the minimum number of early voting sites

Pick any three from the list above (or all of them) and CALL:

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins — (518) 455-2585

Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie — (518) 455-3791

Your own State Senator — find them at bit.ly/2019NYreps

Your own Assembly Member — find them at bit.ly/2019NYreps

General Script for Calls

“My name is [insert] and my zip code is [insert]. The primary election showed that New York is unprepared for what will be an historic election in November. The legislature cannot wait for Governor Cuomo to act. The Covid-19 pandemic is not going away any time soon and we must make sure voters can vote safely at home, via absentee ballot, if they choose. And that they know they will have this option as soon as possible. The data also shows that most voters who vote early, vote the last three days before the election. New York must expand early voting hours during those three days to help reduce the burden for poll workers and voters on election day. Finally, online voter registration should be a simple solution to current barriers to in-person voter registration but the Board of Elections refuses to allow NYC to use its online voter registration portal. The legislature must fix this now. Thank you for your time.”

“My name is [insert] and my zip code is [insert]. The NY State legislature must [insert reforms from the list above that you support] during its legislative session next week. The legislature has no excuse not to protect our safety and defend our right to vote during the November election. Please make sure all voters can vote during the fall election and that their votes are counted. Thank you for your time.”

If you are asked or want to provide specific bill numbers, we support: 

SS8015B (Biaggi)/A10217A (Blake) — expands the definition of “illness” for absentee voting to include instances of a state disaster emergency due to an epidemic or disease outbreak. In theory, this bill would allow voters to vote absentee in November due to Covid-19.

S8367 (Myrie)/no assembly bill — absentee ballots received by BOE up to seven days after election that does not have a postmark will be presumed timely if they have a stamp from BOE indicating receipt by BOE

S8368 (Myrie)/A10744(Paulin) — would not allow voiding of absentee ballot due to stray marks or writing where intent of voter is unambiguous; would prevent voiding of a ballot where the voter did not write the date on the ballot envelope or ballot as long as there was a timestamp indicating the ballot was timely mailed

S8369 (Myrie)/A10746(Paulin) —  where a ballot is partially sealed or sealed with tape, past, or other binding agents, directs board of elections to attempt to contact voter and allow the voter to verify in writing that the voter completed the ballot and submitted the envelope and then count that ballot

S8370 (Myrie)/no assembly bill — provides that before a determination is made to reject a challenged ballot, must (within 24 hours) notify voter by mail of the challenge and reason for challenge and provide an opportunity to submit a sworn statement/affidavit to cure or address the challenge. Voter has three days but no more than seven days to respond after receiving notice.

S8004 (Sanders)/A2327 (May) — requires return postage for absentee ballots

S6463 (Myrie)/A8473 (Blake) — allow the temporary use of the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s online portal and would sunset as soon as the New York State Board of Elections online voter registration portal goes live in/by 2022

Script for Comments on Bills

Click on the the bill to link to the State Senate web page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and make a comment.

SS8015B (Biaggi)/A10271A (Blake)

I support expanding absentee voting because New Yorkers should be able to vote safely during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

I support expanding absentee voting because [insert your reason for support].

S8367 (Myrie)/no assembly bill 

Voters should not be at the mercy of the postal service. Voters should be given the benefit of the doubt that their ballot was mailed on time when the ballot is received by the BOE seven days after the election.

During the New York primary election, board of elections across the state had issues keeping up with absentee ballot request demands. Voters should not be penalized because the BOE lacks adequate funding and support to send voters ballots in time to vote in the election. 

I support this bill because [insert why you support this bill]

S8368 (Myrie)/A10744(Paulin) 

Stray writing or comments on a ballot or ballot envelope should not invalidate a person’s vote if it is clear who the person intended to vote for. Stop suppressing the vote and give voters the benefit of the doubt!

I support this bill because [insert why you support this bill]

S8369 (Myrie)/A10746 (Paulin) 

Voters should have the right to know why their ballot is being denied before they are stripped of their right to vote!

With the increase of absentee voting, the final election results will not be known until weeks after an election. In the interim, give voters the chance to have their ballot counted if there is any issue.

I support this bill because [insert why you support this bill]

S8370 (Myrie)/no assembly bill 

Many states allow a voter to cure their ballot and NY should, too! Simple mistakes or oversights in filling out the ballot should not disqualify a person’s vote.

Let people know that there is something wrong with their ballot so they can fix it!

Voters have the right to know that their ballot will be rejected and be given the opportunity to fix the problem.

I support this bill because [insert why you support this bill]

S8004 (Sanders)/A2327 (May) 

Voters should not be discouraged from voting because they don’t have a stamp to return their absentee ballot. The cost of postage is not only the barrier to voting but also the time and effort it takes to find stamps or get them from the post office.

Make it easier for voters to vote. We don’t have to pay additional money to slide our ballot into the ballot machine. We should not have to pay additional money to mail our ballot to the board of elections.

S6463 (Myrie)/A8473 (Blake) 

Voter registrations are down by almost 50% in NYC in comparison with 2016 during the same period. This is a common sense bill that will allow NYC to use an online voter registration portal that has been ready for over a year to register voters during this pandemic.

I support online voter registration because [insert your reason for support].

Background on Absentee Ballots

Pursuant to the New York State Constitution, you can request an absentee ballot if you for the following enumerated reasons:

• Absence from county or New York City on election day

• Temporary illness or physical disability

• Permanent illness or physical disability

• Duties related to primary care of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled

• Patient or inmate in a Veterans’ Administration Hospital

• Detention in jail/prison, awaiting trial, awaiting action by a grand jury, or in prison for a conviction of a crime or offense which was not a felony

However, due to the difficulties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, BVA is advocating for an expansion of absentee voting for the November election. During the primary election in June 2020, voters were able to request an absentee ballot due to Covid-19 under the temporary illness excuse. This was done through an Executive Order by Governor Cuomo. BVA will provide updates if and when the State government provides information on whether a greater pool of voters will be able to vote via absentee ballot in November. Join BVA in calling your local state representatives to demand that voters have the option to vote absentee due to the current pandemic in October and November. 

REGISTER TO VOTE!

Check your voter registration status HERE. You should periodically check your registration information to make sure you are still registered and your information is correct.

Not registered? Download a voter registration form HERE! Get registered in time for the November 2020 election.

Need to change your registration address? Change your address by submitting a new voter registration form before the November 2020 election. By law, you should be registered at your permanent address. Remember, if you want to be in a party, you must fill out that information on the registration form or you may be unregistered from the party you previously selected.


Census 2020 #MakeBrooklynCount

Check out current census response rates HERE. As of July 9th, 62% of households in the nation have responded to the census online, by phone, or by mail. New York’s response rate is currently below the national rate at 57.5%. New York City’s response rate is 53.2%. Kings County is 50.4%

Census 2020 will shape the next ten years of our lives. In 2010, Brooklyn was the most under-counted large urban area in the country, with a response rate of 54% in comparison to an average of 76%. Check out our census presentation to learn more. COMPLETE THE CENSUS ONLINE AT MY2020CENSUS.GOV OR BY PHONE AT (844) 330-2020.

Please share information on how people can complete the census:

Guide to responding online. *you must complete the census in one sitting. If you leave the page and return, you will have to start over* 

Languages for online questionnaire – English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese. Additional web pages and guides in 59 languages, including American Sign Language, Braille, and large print HERE.

Guide to responding by phone. English speakers should call 844-330-2020. For additional languages, please click the link. 

Guide to responding by mail. A small percentage of homes will receive a census form to mail in during this initial count. This percentage may be increased due to current conditions. If someone receives the census form in the mail, they can complete that form or complete the census by the other available methods.

Key Census FAQ 

Who is counted? Everyone who is or will be living in the household on April 1, 2020. More information on special circumstances when deciding how a person should be counted on your census questionnaire. 

What about college students? Even though colleges and universities have closed or moved to online teaching, students should be counted where they live while at school.

Why is the census important? The census helps determine how billions of dollars of federal funding (for healthcare (!), schools, fire departments, etc) will be distributed and is used to determine the number of seats in Congress each state is allocated. The number of congressional seats directly impacts the number of electoral votes a state has for presidential elections. If you think or someone you know thinks that New York doesn’t matter in presidential elections. With less congressional representatives and accordingly, less electoral votes, it certainly won’t.

DOWNLOAD census flyers and graphics to share on social media HERE.

Languages for flyers in English, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Polish. Translation credit: Judith Hertzberg

Key Dates:

March 12-30 —> Every household will receive a letter from the U.S Government with a code to fill the census out online

Look out for your census form!

April 1 —> Census Day! Please encourage everyone to fill out the Census by this date 

CENSUS 101. Click here to learn more about the census.


New Law Alert: 16 and 17 year olds can now pre-register to vote! Future voters should use the new voter registration forms available HERE.


#RESTORE THE VOTE

Those of us who attended BVA’s #restorethevote forum and/or have researched this topic know and understand that New York’s voting laws are steeped in racism. And to uphold these laws, more than a century later, without any reflection on why they were passed and if they are still needed does a disservice to all New Yorkers. Nowhere in our constitution does it state that a person loses their citizenship when convicted of a felony. Instead, the restrictions to felony enfranchisement are by operation of political calculations that we have the duty, and the right, to question. 

While we at BVA are advocating for universal voting, where losing the right to vote becomes the exception (like in instances of election fraud) rather than the rule. We understand that not everyone is ready for such transformational change (six million people across the nation have lost their right to vote) and that opinions will not change in a day. Therefore, if you are not supportive of universal voting, we challenge you to first, engage with your individual understanding of this issue and formulate your reasons for non-support, and second, to share your opinions and work with us as we explore our advocacy in this area. We want to hear all voices as we work towards our goal of establishing a more just democracy. Want to learn more? 

View or Download our one-sheet on felony disenfranchisement.

Check out The Sentencing Project. HERE

The New York Times op-ed “Tell Me Again Why Prisoners Can’t Vote.” HERE

2016 article from The Atlantic: Polls for Prisons. HERE

Whether you support universal voting or you are not ready, BVA has 2 goals regarding felony disenfranchisement:

  1. To gather information on whether your representative supports codifying Governor Cuomo’s executive order granting a conditional pardon to people on parole, thereby restoring their right to vote and/or universal voting and 
  2. To demand that the state legislature pass legislation codifying Governor Cuomo’s executive order 

Please also email bkvotersalliance@gmail.com if you receive an answer to these questions of wish to learn more or discussion felony restoration.