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NYC Agencies Fail to Follow Voter Registration Law

New York Daily News - October 21, 2014, by Erin Durkin - City agencies are failing to do their part to make voter registration easier — even though they’re required to by law.

Legislation passed in 2000 mandates that 18 agencies give voter registration forms to visitors. But the Center for Popular Democracy and other non-profits found that 84% of those visitors were never offered a chance to register, according to a report to be released Tuesday.

In fact, 60% of the agencies didn’t even have any forms in the office. And 95% of the clients were never asked if they wanted to register to vote.

“This is an urgent problem which is leading to the disenfranchisement of many thousands of low-income New Yorkers,” said Andrew Friedman, the group’s co-executive director. “The city is failing to live up to its obligation.”

The group found that 30% of people who visited the city offices weren’t registered to vote, higher than the national average.

Mayor de Blasio’s spokesman Phil Walzak said Hizzoner has ordered agencies to step up their compliance with the law. “Mayor de Blasio is deeply committed to reducing barriers to voter participation, and making it simple and easy to register to vote is the first step,” he said.

Only one of the agencies, the Administration for Children’s Services, used a combined form that offers the chance to apply for ACS services, as required by the law, the report found.

Advocates say having city agencies help out with voter registration is especially important because most people nationwide sign up to vote at motor vehicle departments, but many city residents don’t drive.