If you plan to vote in this year’s presidential election, you have until October 12 to register. But why wait? Tuesday, on what has been designated National Voter Registration Day, volunteers fanned out throughout the city and state, hoping to boost New York’s traditionally dismal voter participation rate. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It’s a little more than 40 days until Election Day and for New Yorkers yet to register, time is running short. The deadline is October 12 and Tuesday, there were ample reminders as volunteers worked the crowds, offering registrations and motivation.
“If we don’t like what we see, we’ve got to vote to make change," said Onida Coward Mayers of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
“If you want to give a better country to your kids, you’ve got to vote," said Sam Massol of Common Cause New York. "You want your government to be accountable to you, you’ve got to vote.”
On Tuesday, a broad coalition of groups marked National Voter Registration Day. Board of Elections officials were also here, demonstrating the electronic voting machines that this year will be used for the first time in a presidential election.
“We want people not to be afraid to go to the polling site, not go because they’re afraid of the new machines,” said Maria Guastella, the president of the New York City Board of Elections.
At Times Square and at nine other subway stations around the city, volunteers were hoping to register as many as 7,500 new voters on Tuesday, just one piece of a larger statewide effort.
Statewide, there were more than 150 events. A Youth Voter Registration Jam in the Bronx, like others, used a little star power in the form of actor Rosario Dawson, who is a co-founder of the group Voto Latino.
“We’re really trying everything we possibly can to take excuses away from people," Dawson said. "Everyone that we talk to, that we register at Voto Latino, they say 'oh, no one asked me. They didn’t say my voice was important. I didn’t think it was possible.'"
"If you're not registered to vote, you're not taking the course of our country serious," said actor Wilmer Valderrama.
New York, in particular, has a long way to go. It currently ranks 47th in voter registration, with less than 64 percent of eligible residents registered to vote.
For more information, call 866-VOTE-NYC or go to the city Board of Elections website at vote.nyc.ny.us, where you can print a registration form. If you have a driver's license, you can also register online at the DMV website, dmv.ny.gov.