original photo by Eden, Janine and Jim

It’s 2018, and New York Still Doesn’t Care About Your Vote.

Here’s a helpful breakdown of 3 Ballot Questions you probably didn’t even know you were voting on.

Did you know there’s are 3 Ballot Questions you will be voting on during this year’s election, assuming you live in New York City? If you do, congratulations- you’re one of the few. For all the talk about getting citizens out to vote, local governments still do precious little to inform or motivate the general populace about what’s going on. Here is a list of usually reliable online resources that, as of the typing of these words, still don’t even mention our Ballot Questions: Ballotpedia, Vote Smart, My Time to Vote, Vote 411, and Vote Save America. Ballot Ready mentions them by name, but offers zero information about what they are. The only way I (and most of us) even know they exist is thanks to the Voter’s Guide mailed to our homes- but even if you did read their brief explanations, you’d most likely show up at your polling place on November 6th somewhat ignorant and confused.

Question #1: Campaign Finance.

Voting yes would lower the amount of money candidates running for city offices can receive from an individual, while simultaneously raise the amount of money given to candidates who participate in a public funds program. To understand this better, check out this table:

Question #2: Civic Engagement Commission.

Voting yes on this would create a new “Civic Engagement Commission” made up of 15 members that would be charged to:

  • Partner with and support local community-based organizations and civic leaders in their “civic engagement” efforts.
  • Develop a plan to “consider the language access needs of limited English proficient New Yorkers” with new services.
  • Establish a plan for providing language interpreters at poll sites starting in 2020.
  • It would also “Partner with New York City agencies to increase awareness of and access to City services.”

Question #3: Community Boards.

Voting yes on this would create term limits for Community Board members. There are 59 Community Districts in NYC, each with 50 volunteer members (for a total of 2,950 people.) Each Borough President appoints people to Community Boards, half of them from nominations by City Council members. Currently, there are no term limits, though members have to reapply every two years (there’s no election process here- the Borough President just renews your membership if they think you’re doing a good job.)

A filmmaker, writer & artist who has directed Public Enemy music videos, coauthored a TED Talk with Brian Greene, and edited Sesame Street, among other things.

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