August 20, 2018
BROOKLYN—As part of the City's DemocracyNYC agenda, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit will be conducting extensive, non-partisan outreach to more than 561,000 inactive voters to ensure that they remain registered and to avoid any possibility of removing eligible voters from voter rolls.
The Mayor also announced that the City will be raising wages for Board of Elections poll workers. Currently, BOE poll workers are paid a daily salary of about $200, which comes out to an hourly rate of $12.50 an hour for a 16 hour work day. The City will now raise their daily wages to $250, which comes out to an hourly rate of $15 an hour. The raise not only meets new minimum wage standards, but also will help recruit and retain more qualified workers and likely increase the efficiency of poll site operations.
"We're taking significant steps to increase the efficiency of our electoral system and to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2016, when countless New Yorkers were purged from voter rolls," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "By having my Administration reach out directly to inactive voters and by raising the wages of some of the most important people in our electoral process, we're strengthening our Democracy and preserving New Yorkers' right to vote."
"Voting is at the core of our democracy and we will continue to fight for every New Yorker to be able to exercise their right on Election Day," said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. "Contacting potentially ineligible voters and increasing wages for poll workers are tangible actions that will positively impact on our elections and continue the Mayor's bold vision for DemocracyNYC to make New York City the fairest city in America."
"It is vital that New Yorkers are made aware of their voting eligibility and can take the appropriate steps to participate in elections," said Mayor's Public Engagement Unit Acting Director Eric Rotondi. "Proactively reaching out to all of these New Yorkers will help ensure they can make their voices heard on Election Day and shape the future of their city."
"Increased resources for the Board of Elections has long been a priority for me. The Assembly Majority strongly supports efforts to increase access to the polls and improve the efficiency the voting process at polling places," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "The future of our families and communities depend on New Yorkers' ability to exercise their right to vote. This initiative will help keep New Yorkers informed and ensure that they remain registered to vote."
State Senator Liz Krueger said, "Voting is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. That's why it's so important to protect the opportunity of New Yorkers to have their votes counted. By reaching out to inactive voters and providing fair wages to poll workers, Mayor de Blasio is helping to ensure that all New Yorkers have the chance to make their voices heard at the ballot box."
"Voting is at the heart of our democracy. Increasing outreach to inactive voters and increasing poll worker compensation are important steps in strengthening democracy through greater voter participation. As the chairperson of the Governmental Operations Committee, I can say with confidence that Mayor de Blasio is taking the right steps toward fairness and improving New York's electoral system. I fully support increasing poll worker compensation and have submitted legislation calling on the state legislature to authorize the City of New York to increase poll worker pay so the steps we take today are enshrined in law. We're moving forward together to modernize our electoral system and expand civic engagement," said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.
New Yorkers are added to an inactive voter list when the BOE receives information from other government entities, such as the DMV, that indicates a person no longer resides at their registered address and if they fail to respond to a residence confirmation notice. These voters are removed from voter rolls if they do not vote in one of the next two federal elections. Inactive voters must confirm their address with the BOE or submit a registration 20 days before a special, primary or general election.
Typically, the BOE sends one notification to inactive voters reminding them to confirm their address or submit a new registration. The de Blasio Administration, through the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit, will now be conducting direct outreach with follow up to inactive voters using robo calls and postcards, encouraging the more than 561,000 inactive voters to respond to the BOE. Additionally, PEU will let voters know that even if they are not on the voter list on Election Day, they can still vote via an affidavit ballot at their polling site. This outreach will begin immediately. New Yorkers can confirm their voter registration status online through the New York State Board of Elections at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov or by calling the New York City Board of Elections at 1-866-VOTE-NYC (1-866-868-3692).
The Mayor also called on the BOE to follow requirements outlined in a 2017 Consent Decree, which was signed by the BOE after countless voters were purged from voter rolls in 2016. The Consent Decree requires the BOE to provide monthly and annual reports on voter list maintenance, including a review of every cancelled voter since 2013. The information will help provide insight on the number of disenfranchised voters and allow the City to follow up with these voters directly.
Increasing outreach to inactive voters and raising the wages of BOE poll workers are part of Mayor de Blasio's DemocracyNYC agenda, which aims to increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy locally and nationally, including by pushing the State to enact same-day voter registration and consolidate primary elections.