New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos


Elections are vital to preserving democracy. As a member of the&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>New York Democratic Lawyers Council</strong></a>, I had the opportunity to help build a coalition of lawyers and others dedicated to fostering universal participation and trust in the electoral process by ensuring that all eligible person can register to vote easily, vote simply, fairly, without intimidation, and that all votes are counted on open and reliable voting systems. While rising to the position of State Coordination Committee Chair, I had the opportunity to organize and manage over 4,000 New York attorneys and 350 New York law students, who helped protect our right to elect&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>Barack Obama</strong></a>&nbsp;as President and coordinate election protection for U.S. Senator&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>Kirsten Gillibrand</strong></a>'s first election to Congress, helping to&nbsp;<a href=",_2006&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>take back the Democratic majority</strong></a>&nbsp;in the&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>House of Representatives</strong></a>. While working with this organization, I first discovered that over 800,000 New Yorkers had been dropped from the New York State Voter Registration List and without much time before the election, I created&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong></strong></a>, to help 12 million New Yorkers verify their voter registration. Since its creation&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong></strong></a>&nbsp;has verified voter registrations for over 35,000 New Yorkers.<br><br>As Chief of Staff to&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing</strong></a>, I had the opportunity to work on ground breaking legislation to allow New Yorkers to&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>register to vote online</strong></a>. As your City Council member I will fight for&nbsp;<strong>transparent</strong>&nbsp;elections using a&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>voter verifiable paper trail</strong></a>,&nbsp;<strong>open</strong>&nbsp;voting machines with hardware and software can be reviewed by the City or State, and&nbsp;<strong>accountability</strong>&nbsp;with the requirement that with a transition to a paper based ballot, that all optical scanned paper ballots be posted online for the people to verify and audit should they so choose.

New York Daily News EXCLUSIVE: Council bill would apply new contribution limits to special election for public advocate by Jillian Jorgensen

EXCLUSIVE: Council bill would apply new contribution limits to special election for public advocate

The new campaign finance rules approved by voters at the polls last month don’t take effect until 2021 -- but City Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced legislation that would allow candidates in the upcoming special election for public advocate to opt into the new system.

“Almost every single candidate running for public advocate is already an elected official, and only one can win. And I just don’t want that many existing elected officials taking that much money,” Kallos told the News.

An architect of the new system passed as Question 1 on the ballot last November -- which set up a new campaign finance system that slashes contribution limits while increasing the amount of public matching funds a candidate can receive -- Kallos is looking to create similar changes for candidates running in special elections and other races that will crop up between now an

City and State NYC purged 200,000 voters in 2016. It wasn’t a mistake. by Stacey Asip- Kneitschel

NYC purged 200,000 voters in 2016. It wasn’t a mistake.

“Sadly it’s another case of Albany getting in the way of anyone having good elections in this state, or of Albany to fix the Board of Elections, give it back to the people and take it away from the party bosses.” – New York City Councilman Ben Kallos

“It’s interesting to see that the two people whose conduct was found culpable in Brooklyn lost their employment and yet the people involved in some of the other purges identified by the AG in Queens and Manhattan are still there. Why weren’t those people fired?” New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, a longtime critic of the city election board’s hiring system, asked rhetorically.

Not quite scapegoats, the two suspended Brooklyn clerks appeared to be more like settled-upon sacrificial lambs. A city Board of Elections spokeswoman recently described them both as “retired.” But in 2016, what they appear to have been doing was following orders.

Gotham Gazette Campaign Finance Board to Propose Reforms at Charter Commission Hearing by Samar Khurshid

Campaign Finance Board to Propose Reforms at Charter Commission Hearing

One bill currently at the City Council, proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos, would increase the cap on public campaign matching funds from the current 55 percent of the spending limit for a particular seat to 85 percent. The CFB is now proposing a more moderate increase to 65 percent of the spending limit, reasoning that it nonetheless boosts small donations while giving candidates the flexibility to raise and spend funds from private sources since public funds payments are usually doled out in the closing stretches of each election cycle.


Brooklyn Daily Eagle NYC looks at ways to entice voters to polls by Paula Katinas

NYC looks at ways to entice voters to polls

Councilmembers Mark Treyger Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side) and Helen Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side) are pushing legislation to make it easier for New Yorkers to register to vote and to cut the red tape prospective candidates face getting on the ballot.

One bill would seek to strengthen the Young Adult Voter Registration Act, a 2004 law requiring voter registration forms to be sent to graduating high school seniors with their diplomas. The bill would require the forms to be distributed to students in class instead of mailing them with diplomas.

"Ensuring that our schools are connecting students with language-appropriate voter registration materials will help us empower our young adults to stand up, take action for what they believe in, and become part of the social fabric of our city, our state and our country," said Treyger, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Education.

A second bill would require landlords to provide new tenants with voter registration forms with the apartment lease.

The third bill would overhaul the process by which candidates get on the ballot. Under the bill, candidates could qualify to get on the ballot by meeting a minimum threshold to receive public funds through the city’s campaign finance system.

It would do away with the current system which requires candidates to secure a certain number of signatures on nominating petitions from registered voters in their districts.

Kallos charged that the current system has given rise to “ballot bumping,” an effort by well-financed candidates and political clubs to hire lawyers to take opponents to court and knock them off the ballot for minor technical infractions.

Gotham Gazette Board of Elections To Roll Out ‘Electronically Assisted’ Voter Registration by Samar Khurshid

Board of Elections To Roll Out ‘Electronically Assisted’ Voter Registration

The City Council last year passed a law mandating that the BOE implement online voter registration and, in mid-2016, mandated that the BOE create an online voter information portal where New Yorkers can track their absentee ballots, check their registration status and voting history, as well as access other voting and election resources. Both bills were sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee last Council session.

The BOE has often been reluctant to abide by local laws, since it is governed by the state, and has either implemented common-sense measures that do not necessarily require legislation or has been pushed to do so by litigation. Ryan reiterated that fact Monday, setting aside the “mandate-no mandate argument” and laying out the BOE’s plans for this year. He also explained why the BOE had been slow to implement those measures, when Council Member Kallos sought answers about the delay.

“Simply put, 2016 happened,” Ryan said, referring to the 2016 presidential election, during which the BOE faced widespread criticism for mishandling of election operations and settled a federal lawsuit arising from a voter purge in Brooklyn. “We had the issues, painful as it is for me to resurrect, we had the voter registration issues in Brooklyn, followed shortly after that by the cybersecurity issues that arose just prior to the presidential election.”

Gotham Gazette Many Election Poll Workers are Placed by Party Machines, Some May Influence Votes by Ben Weiss

Many Election Poll Workers are Placed by Party Machines, Some May Influence Votes

For reformers like Ben Kallos, City Council member for Manhattan’s District 5 and chair of the Council’s government operations committee, the problem is simple. “I don’t believe people should get jobs in government because of who they know,” he said in a phone interview.

He urged anyone with allegations of campaigns inserting supporters into poll sites to speak up, including through the city Department of Investigations. “We’re calling upon them to do their civic duty,” he exhorted.


Our Town Online voter registration gets OK by Michael Garofalo

Online voter registration gets OK

Council Member Ben Kallos, the bill’s author, hopes that the legislation will make it easier for the city’s residents to access the ballot. “Only about 25 percent of Manhattan households own cars,” Kallos said, citing the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “Driver licenses and other state identification cards are not as common among people of color or low-income communities, so having an online voter registration system that anyone can use is incredibly important.”

Seth Stein, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that the mayor’s office is reviewing the final legislation. “The Administration worked closely with the City Council in crafting this legislation,” he said. “We support online registration and making voting more accessible to New Yorkers.”

The legislation that has an 18-month timeline for implementation, but Kallos said he hopes the online registration system will be up and running “in a matter days or weeks rather than months and months,” noting that a working demonstration of the system is available on his website.

New York Daily News City Council passes bill allowing New Yorkers to register to vote online by Erin Durkin

City Council passes bill allowing New Yorkers to register to vote online

New Yorkers will soon be able to register to vote online after the City Council passed legislation to allow it Thursday.

The city Campaign Finance Board will set up a website and create an app to allow would-be voters to register.

“It seems like every election in New York City, it’s a new low for voter turnout,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), noting the dismal turnout in last week’s mayoral election.