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As Voters Head to the Polls for the New York Primary Elections, Election Protection to Provide Critical Assistance

For Immediate Release April 18, 2016

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day

Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow, as New York voters prepare to cast ballots for the April 19 primary election, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, will provide assistance to voters statewide to ensure that voters are equipped with accurate information when heading to the polls.

In addition to providing voter assistance through our toll free hotline- 866-OUR-VOTE- Election Protection wants to ensure that voters know the rules for participating in the state’s primary election.  One area of confusion for voters in other states this election cycle is whether unaffiliated or independent voters are able participate in the state’s primary election. In New York, voters must be pre-registered with a political party in order to vote for that party’s nominees for president. Individuals who applied to change their political party affiliation by October 9, 2015, can vote in the primary of their new political party. Anyone who applied to change their political affiliation after October 9, 2015 cannot participate in that “future” party’s primaries in 2016. The voter’s party affiliation change will take full effect after the November 2016 election. However, special elections will also be held on April 19 in parts of Kings, Nassau, New York and Richmond counties. All registered voters are eligible to vote in those special elections, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a political party. Voters who experience problems at the polls should call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). The hotline will be staffed live from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT on primary election Day. Spanish-speaking voters may seek bilingual (English/Spanish) assistance through the 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) hotline from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. EDT.

“The right to vote lies at the heart of our democracy.  No New Yorker should encounter obstacles or barriers when seeking to cast their ballot during Tuesday’s presidential primary,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

Leading up to this year’s presidential election, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) and partners have focused on modernizing New York’s outdated election system so it works better for the way voters live their lives today. The Lawyers’ Committee has encouraged Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders to pass legislation providing for early voting in New York and automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles and public assistance agencies.

Reminders for New York Voters:

  • Verify your registration status at http://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/ to ensure that you can vote.
  • Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in New York City, the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Erie. Elsewhere, polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.
  • Only first-time voters may be required to show an ID, which could be a utility bill or bank statement bearing a name and correct address or a photo ID like a driver’s license or student ID card.
  • New Yorkers who were registered to vote before October 9, 2015 can only vote in a party’s primary if they were affiliated with that party as of October 9, 2015. New registrants can vote in the primary for the party they selected when registering to vote. An individual can verify their current (not future) political party affiliation at http://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/.
  • Check to see if you are in the 9th Senate District (some voters in Nassau County) or Assembly Districts 59 (some voters in Kings County), 62 (some voters in Richmond County) or 65 (some voters in New York County) at http://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/. Every registered voter in each of those districts is eligible to vote in the special election being held on April 19.

“In New York and across the country, voters want and deserve a voting process that is fair and accessible,” said Rosemarie Clouston, national coordinator with the Lawyers’ Committee.  “Our goal is to ensure that all voters know that the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource they can turn to if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

Media Note:  Voting rights and Election Protection spokespersons are available for media interviews to offer Election Day observations. Please contact Stacie Burgess to coordinate, [email protected], 202-662-8317.

About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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