NYC VAAC Hearing: October 12, 2022


With Election Day less than a month away, the October 12 Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC) meeting focused on the upcoming general election. The Committee heard about the New York City ballot proposals as well as the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and NYC Votes’ education and advertising campaigns. Here are a few highlights from the meeting.

Amy Loprest, CFB Executive Director, will retire at the end of this month. VAAC Chair Zoilo Torres and other members of the VAAC expressed their appreciation for her many years of service.

Harold Miller, Executive Director of the Racial Justice Commission (RJC), delivered a presentation on the three New York City ballot proposals. The first proposal would add a statement of values to the preamble of the NYC Charter. The second would establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan, and Commission. The third would require the city to measure the true cost of living. Miller also covered the Commission’s non-partisan education campaign and their collaboration with grassroots organizations, community boards, elected officials, and other stakeholders.

One statewide proposal about environmental protection, which would amend the New York State Constitution, will appear on the 2022 general election ballot, in addition to the three NYC proposals. The RJC had no involvement in the creation of the statewide proposal. Instead, in accordance with Article 19 of the New York State Constitution, members of the New York State legislature proposed the constitutional amendment. Then, the Attorney General reviewed the proposal and the State Assembly and Senate voted on it. After the New York State Board of Elections certified the proposal language, the proposal was put on the November general election ballot.

The VAAC also heard from Allie Swatek, Director of Policy and Research at the CFB. Swatek’s presentation provided a high-level summary of the newly released 2021 Post-Election Report. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the campaign finance program’s effect on the 2021 city elections, and further information on spending trends, audit enforcement, and the CFB’s policy and legislative recommendations for future cycles.

Omar Suarez, Director of Partnerships and Outreach at the CFB, spoke about the CFB’s priority neighborhoods in the South Bronx, North Central Queens, South Brooklyn, and East Brooklyn. The priority neighborhoods have had low voter turnout for previous elections and large populations of people with limited English proficiency. Suarez also discussed the NYC Votes Youth Ambassador program and several upcoming trainings and events about the 2022 general election ballot and the voting process.

Crystal Choy, Associate Director of Production at the CFB, spoke about the NYC Votes Voter Guide, which provides information on key deadlines, voter rights, accessibility matters,  races and questions on the ballot, and more. The print Voter Guide is sent to every New York City household with a registered voter and, as of October 17, has already hit mailboxes. The online Voter Guide is also available. All Voter Guide content is available in the five federal Voting Rights Act languages: English, Spanish, Bengali, Korean, and Traditional Chinese.

Lastly, Mitchell Cohen, the CFB’s Content Strategy Manager, discussed the CFB’s advertising campaign. Ads will be available in the federal Voting Rights Act languages on digital platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitch, Instagram) and in locations throughout the city (e.g., subways, bus shelters, mobile billboards). Key audiences for the campaign include young voters, newly naturalized citizens, and those within the CFB’s priority neighborhoods.

The next Voter Assistance Advisory Committee meeting is on Wednesday, December 14. This is the post-election hearing, during which the Committee will hear from New Yorkers about their experiences voting in the upcoming general election.