COUNCIL MEMBERS WILLS AND KALLOS JOIN BOE AND DHS IN PRE-ELECTION DAY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

11/07/2016

COUNCIL MEMBERS WILLS AND KALLOS JOIN BOE AND DHS IN PRE-ELECTION DAY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

November 4, 2016 – Jamaica, NY – One week removed from enacting voting rights legislation for the incarcerated, Council Members Ruben Wills (D-South Jamaica) and Ben Kallos of Manhattan joined the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to announce a joint effort with the Board of Elections (BOE) to ensure the City’s voter registered homeless are fully aware of where they must go on Election Day to cast their ballot.

Federal law guarantees homeless citizens the right to vote in an election, so long as the person is a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age by December 31st of the year in which he or she registers to vote, is 18 years old by the date of the primary, general or other election; lives at their present address at least 30 days before an election, not be in jail or on parole for a felony conviction, not claim the right to vote elsewhere, and be registered to vote.

Presently, the City’s 311 information system tasked with providing the accurate poll site location isn’t being utilized by every individual who doesn’t live in a permanent residence.

Those who can log onto the Internet may visit the online NYC Poll Site Locator Web App to obtain that information, but a digital divide limits access for many. Voters displaced from their homes and living in temporary shelter can cast affidavit ballots from the designated poll site near their residence, and any homeless individual living on the street can simply contact 311 with the name of the street corner nearest their location in order to have a poll site assigned to him or her. The BOE recommends voters go to their designated poll site during its non-peak hours, typically between 9:30 AM and 4:30 AM, and request the assistance of a trained BOE poll-worker to help them prepare the affidavit ballot and oath.

“Three weeks ago, a homeless constituent came into my District Office and claimed she had been disenfranchised,” said Council Member Ruben Wills. “At the earliest opportunity, I spoke to BOE Director Ryan, and he pledged to meet with my staff to both address her issue and discuss collaborating with DHS on getting the word out pre-Election Day about the ways and means by which these individuals can have their votes counted. I want to thank him and his excellent staff for their cooperation. I also want to thank DHS for its willingness to participate in this effort by agreeing to issue a memorandum to its shelter operators, directing them to notify its residents of their voting rights and how to access to the polls.”

"We must ensure that everyone who can vote is voting no matter their housing status," said Council Member and Committee on Governmental Operations Chair Ben Kallos. "Thank you to Council Member Wills for his outstanding work and leadership in preventing disenfranchisement ahead of the upcoming general election.  Thank you also to Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan for his work and cooperation in this effort as well as the Department of Homeless Services."

“The Board of Elections is committed to serving all voters of the City of New York,” said Executive Director Michael Ryan. “The Board thanks Council Member Wills for his extensive efforts to assist recently displaced and homeless voters. The Board further thanks DHS Commissioner Banks for his assistance in providing this importation information in the days leading up to Election Day.”

“We are committed to providing clients with the support and information they need to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Stephen Banks. “We are working with our nonprofit service providers to ensure that homeless New Yorkers get the information they need to make their voices heard and their vote count.”

To visit the NYC Poll Site Locator Web App, go to vote.nyc.ny.us.

To determine if you are registered to vote in New York State, please visit https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.