CUNY Launches Major Voter Registration and Education Campaign

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In anticipation for the upcoming election year, The City University of New York is launching "Voice Your Choice 2016" a major voter registration initiative aimed at registering thousands of students across 24 campuses to participate in city, state and presidential elections.

The non-partisan CUNY campaign will utilize the University's website (www.cuny.edu/vote), CUNY-TV, email messages, and social media platforms, as well as the efforts of nearly 30 voter registration coordinators that will be organizing college activities to register students by March 25–the deadline for the April 19 Presidential Primary in New York.

CUNY Citizenship Now, a University-based immigrant assistance program, is also redoubling efforts to help as many students as possible to become naturalized citizens in time to register for the 2016 elections.

Additional support for CUNY's campaign will be provided by partner organizations including The New York Public Interest Research Group, The New York City Campaign Finance Board, and Common Cause.

"Voter registration is the first step towards a more engaged, active citizenry," said Chancellor James B. Milliken. "We encourage all members of the University community to participate in the electoral process during this presidential election year."

According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, New York State currently faces a voter participation crisis. Nearly 2 million voting age citizens are not registered to vote. However, CUNY's efforts have proven successful in getting students to vote and participate in past elections.

In the 2012 Presidential election, CUNY registered 123,698 students to vote, representing 61.9% of those who were eligible. More recently, for the 2014 midterm elections, CUNY registered 107,130 students, 51.8% of those who were eligible.

In addition to the April 19 Presidential Primary and the Nov. 8 General Election, there are two other elections scheduled for 2016. The federal primary is scheduled for June 28, with a voter registration deadline of June 3. The New York State Primary will occur in September. However, the State Board of Elections has not posted a date yet.

As part of the "Voice Your Choice 2016" campaign, CUNY is also recruiting students to work as Election Day poll workers and interpreters at poll sites across New York City. Eligible students can earn up to $900 for completing the training and working four Election Days. The Board of Elections reports a need for interpreters fluent in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, and Bengali.

CUNY faculty, staff, and students will also be encouraged to explore the impressive compilation of research, documents, and photos on the history of Voting Rights and Citizenship available at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, based at LaGuardia Community College.

The LaGuardia and Wagner Archives website also includes an online version of the Voting Rights and Citizenship curriculum for middle and high school history classes. In these curricula, developed by the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY, students learn about the history of Voting Rights through the analysis of original documents, such as letters, newspapers, photographs, cartoons and maps, bringing history alive by looking at how people perceived events at that time.