Our vote is our voice in determining the future of our community and country, yet in every election many eligible voters find themselves confused and unable to exercise their freedom to vote. During major elections, we place non-partisan volunteer poll monitors on the ground at polling places across the state to protect voters from intimidation and to help guarantee that no eligible New Yorker is denied the chance to vote.
2016 Election Protection Program
Common Cause New York lead our biggest Election Protection campaign yet in the fall of 2016. Our goals were to deploy 100 trained volunteers at 17 polling locations throughout Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, as well as to partner with other leading community and civic organizations to help protect the freedom to vote for all New Yorkers. We aimed to ensure that nonpartisan volunteer poll monitors were able to identify voter intimidation, help voters troubleshoot problems, and report bad practices at polling places to election authorities. Over a dozen volunteer training sessions were held in the final two weeks leading up to Election Day.
We selected polling places to deploy volunteers based on historical issues identified by community activists and news research, high turnout in the 2012 election, the location of volunteers themselves, and risk of intimidation and disenfranchisement (i.e. communities of color and Muslim communities, identified in partnership with people of color-led organizations including Make the Road and Muslim Community Network). Common Cause New York also coordinated with Davis Polk, AALDEF, LatinoJustice, and NYPIRG, local organizations managing their own grassroots Election Protection campaigns in New York.
By all measures, the campaign surpassed its goals. We held 16 training sessions for 248 volunteers, 224 of whom completed 248 shifts in 7 counties on Election Day:
Program results in New York City:
- 62 volunteers completed 72 shifts at 15 polling places in Brooklyn (Kings County)
- 78 volunteers completed 82 shifts at 17 polling places in Manhattan (New York County)
- 34 volunteers completed 38 shifts at 9 polling places in Queens
- 15 volunteers completed 19 shifts at 5 polling places in Nassau County
- 13 volunteers completed 15 shifts at 4 polling places in Suffolk County
- 2 volunteers completed 2 shifts at 1 polling place in Ulster County
- approx. 20 volunteers completed shifts in Monroe County
Common Cause New York also launched PollWatch.info as an online tool for Election Protection volunteers and voters to report on their experience at the polling place, especially problems that arose throughout the day.