de blasio, Uptowns Rodriguez And Others Kicks Off Civics Week With Student Voter Registration Drive

March 2, 2020

The de Blasio administration kicked off the second annual Civics Week with a Student Voter Registration Drive today at William Cullen Bryant High School in Long Island City. As part of the City’s commitment to increase civic engagement, during Civics Week, DemocracyNYC representatives, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit and the Department of Education will register first-time student voters in high schools and colleges across the city from March 2-6, 2020.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, and the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit Director Omar Khan and Councilmember Jimmy van Bramer visited high school students today to discuss the importance of civic engagement and participation in the democratic process.

“Our students are the future leaders of our City, and what we do now to empower them to vote will strengthen our democracy for years to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I encourage all students to register and show up at the polls on Election Day because their voice matters.”

“Our future depends on engaging more youth in the democratic process,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “With 16- and 17-year-olds now able to pre-register to vote, we are working to ensure as many young people as possible can participate and lead change in our communities and the nation.”

“Across the City, our schools are hosting voter registration drives, participatory budgeting, town halls, and other activities that get students of all ages engaged in the democratic process,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “I’m thrilled to kick off Civics Week this election year by encouraging as many students as possible to register to vote!”

Civics Week is part of the Department of Education’s Civics for All initiative, which teaches students about the foundations of the American government and the democratic process. During Civics Week, students at public schools have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, including youth voter registration drives, participatory budgeting for their schools, public speaking competitions, and town halls on issues that matter to them and their communities.

This year, for the first time in New York, 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote, meaning they will automatically be registered when they turn 18-years-old, allowing more students to participate in future elections.

“Civics Week is a great opportunity to help recruit the next generation of leaders and to engage with young people about the importance of civic participation and voting,” said Laura Wood, DemocracyNYC Special Counsel. “Volunteers from city agencies and community-based organizations will be in high school classrooms in every borough for the next week, encouraging students to become life-long voters and engaged members of their communities.

DemocracyNYC thanks our critical partners for their efforts in this city-wide mobilization to empower youth to join in the democratic process.”

“Our democracy is strongest when it represents everyone, and we take seriously our responsibility to make that a reality for all New Yorkers, including the next generation of voters,” said Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit Director Omar Khan. “I’m proud that we are leading the charge to increase participation in our elections, and that PEU’s proactive outreach efforts will positively impact so many students during this Student Voter Registration Drive.”

“Through initiatives like Civics for All and DemocracyNYC, we not only educate young people on how to have their voices heard but work to empower them,” said the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Marco A. Carrión. “This city depends on the next generation knowing how to use their power.”

“At the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, we prioritize community empowerment because we know how critical education about your rights and exercising your voice through civic participation is to realize a more inclusive, equitable, and just world for all of us,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Through this Civics Week initiative, we are helping to prepare young New Yorkers from diverse families to fully participate in decisions that will impact their lives and their communities.”

“Civics Week is about supporting youth as they step into their power,” said NYC Chief Service Officer Anusha Venkataraman. “Youth already lead our city and build a community to support various causes – from climate justice to ending violence. By registering to vote, young people will not only ensure their voices count now but also develop a lifelong practice of civic engagement.”

Since the inaugural Student Voter Registration Drive in 2015, tens of thousands of students have been registered to vote at hundreds of high schools throughout New York City. In just the past two years, DemocracyNYC, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit and the Department of Education registered nearly 30,000 students.

During this year’s Student Voter Registration Drive, DemocracyNYC and the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, in partnership with NYC Votes, will also mobilize a broad coalition of partners, including the Civic Engagement Commission, the Community Affairs Unit, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Mayor’s Office Immigrant Affairs and community-based organizations such as Dominicanos USA and League of Women Voters to register students to vote in high schools and colleges across the five boroughs.

“Civics Week gives young people the tools to empower themselves and their friends to participate fully in New York City’s democracy,” said Sabrina Castillo, Director of Partnerships and Outreach, New York City Campaign Finance Board. “NYC Votes is committed to providing data and voter registration best practices to these student leaders so they become powerful voting advocates in their communities.”

The next citywide elections in New York City will be the Presidential Primary and the Special Election for the 37th Council District in Brooklyn on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. The deadline to register to vote for the Presidential Primary is April 3. The state, local and federal Primary Election is on June 23, 2020. The general election is on November 3, 2020. There will be nine days of early voting before all these elections. New Yorkers who need to register to vote can do so through the DMV online, by mail or in-person at a New York City Board of Elections Office. New Yorkers who are interested in registering to vote, need to update their existing registration, or want more information on the upcoming elections can call 311 or visit

“Young people deserve to have their voices heard. I commend the City on a pre-registration initiative to encourage more young people to participate in their democracies and have a say on the issues that affect their lives,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes.

“In the 2017 citywide elections, only 13.4% of registered voters under age 30 cast their ballots,” said State Senator Brad Holyman. “In next year’s municipal elections I’m hoping the percentage will be far higher now that historic voting reforms were passed by our new Senate Majority, under the leadership of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. We should also pass my bill to lower the voting age to 16, so even greater numbers of young people can have a say in the future of our city and state. I’m grateful to NYC DOE and the de Blasio Administration for their work during the second annual Civics Week and I encourage every young person in New York to register and vote!”

“Our society and our government work best when everyone pitches in, gets involved, and makes their voice heard. Voting is the most basic way that we participate in our democracy, and it should be a lifelong practice. Making sure that our young people are registered to vote can start them on a path of civic engagement that will benefit them, their communities, our state and our country for decades to come. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for leading this effort to register New York’s students,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.

“I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and the NYC Public Schools on their strong efforts to register high school students to vote during Civics Week, said State Senator Shelley B. Mayer. A robust democracy requires that we empower our young people with the tools to be active participants in the political process. Schools are uniquely situated to ensure that all students have the opportunity to register to vote and to teach young people that their voices matter in the political process. This year, I am sponsoring legislation to establish the School Voter Registration Access Program which requires school districts to adopt a policy to promote student voter registration and pre-registration for students in grades ten, eleven, and twelve.”

“We need to encourage more young people to take part in the democratic process by voting, said State Senator James Sanders Jr. I am proud to support the Second Annual Civics Week and Student Voter Registration Drive. It will aim to make registering to vote easier and more convenient for our young people. Since the next generation will shape the future of our country, they should be informed in order to make smart choices. I hope that registering to vote will encourage them to be more active in politics and in learning about the role of government in their lives.”

“Voting keeps our democracy alive, and it’s essential we get our young generation actively involved from the start, said State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. Student voter registration drives are a key way to make civic engagement more accessible, and I commend DemocracyNYC, Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, and the DOE for their efforts in registering students in over 100 high schools around NYC. Our youth have long been under-represented in the democratic process, but these kinds of initiatives help turn the tide and provide a concrete path to ensure they use their voice to shape our societies.”

“As a State Senator of a district with a high concentration of low-income and minority communities, I know how important it is to empower, educate and mobilize individuals who have been historically under-represented, especially among our youth, said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. That’s why Civic Week is important. As a result of reforms to our electoral system we implemented last year, 16 and 17 years old students will be able to pre-register to vote for the first time. This will allow them to automatically become active participants of democracy once they turn 18. I applaud this administration’s efforts to promote civic engagement in our youth so that they shape the future of our City and our State.”

“It is so important that young people get engaged from an early age in our democratic system, said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. I am very proud that the state legislature has changed the law to help increase voter participation among the youngest demographic in our state, and hope that students across New York City take advantage of this opportunity to register to vote. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his ongoing support of increased civic engagement among our students and for promoting student voter registration.”

“Early registration is a crucial step in boosting voter turnout in New York. Young New Yorkers are already leading the way on important issues like climate change, education and economic and social justice. Our democracy needs their energy, ideas and commitment,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.

“What a time to be alive, said Assemblymember Hyndman. Engaging our young people to raise their voices and become civically engaged is such an important part of this democracy that we can no longer ignore. Excited for Democracy NYC and all partnering schools whom continue to prepare and educate the future on their power in the world with Civics Week.”

“Civic engagement is important now more than ever. We must do all we can to encourage and empower our youth to register to vote and be active in our democracy. I was proud to help pass New York State’s law allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote because it is their voices that will determine the laws of tomorrow. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for this initiative that highlights the importance of civic engagement participation and encourages our youth to register to vote,” said Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn).

“When basic human rights and democracy itself is being challenged, it is critical that everyone’s voice is heard including that of high school and college-age residents. If our elected leaders are not representative of our values, we have a choice to send that message at the ballot box. I look forward to partnering with the Office of the Mayor and Eleanor Roosevelt High School to register and pre-register eligible voters during Civics Week,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.

“Young people are increasingly taking up the mantle of leadership from gun violence to climate change, bringing their passions to the streets and offices of elected officials; now it is time for them to vote. Civics engagement has always been a priority for me and I am thrilled to continue my participation in the Student Voter Registration Day. Developing the habit of voting while young makes for life-long voters. On this, the first year that 16 and 17 year-olds can preregister to vote in New York State, let’s make sure that they pre-register and begin voting as soon as they turn 18 so that every voice is heard and every vote is cast,” said Assemblymember Jo Ann Simon.

“Voting is not only a fundamental right but also civic responsibility,” said Assemblymember David I. Weprin. “By allowing young people to pre-register to vote, we can help instill a lifelong sense of civic duty early in life while teaching our young citizens the value and procedures for our democracy. I am glad that the City of New York, City Department of Education and Civic Engagement Commission have partnered to bring us our second Civics Week of the year and look forward to seeing our young New Yorkers as a part of our democratic process.”

“Civic engagement is key for keeping our democracy strong,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “As a Bryant High School alum, I’m thrilled to have Chancellor Carranza and Deputy Mayor Thompson here to speak with students to help them find their voice and their power.”

“It cannot be overstated how vital it is to our democracy that young New Yorkers make their voices heard. Five years ago, my office launched Student Voter Registration Day, and thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s DemocracyNYC initiative, opportunities for youth civic engagement only continue to grow. This year, our 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to pre-register to vote, and even better, 18+year-olds will vote in the most important election of our generation,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

“Civic engagement is a tenent of a thriving democracy and there’s no action more important than showing up to vote”, said Councilmember Andrew Cohen. “I’m thrilled to kick off New York City’s Second Annual Civics Week with the Mayor’s office, the Department of Education, and NYC Votes to get students and young people involved in the important work of democracy. There’s no overstating the vital role of our students in advancing progress and change in our communities. We must continue to invest in comprehensive programs to strengthen student voter engagement and prepare young people with the resources and tools to carry out this important civic duty.”

“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and registering to vote is the first step. I am pleased to once again help bring voter registration to eligible high school students in Eastern Queens,” said Councilmember Barry S. Grodenchik.

“New York State ranks last among states for voting, but registering high school seniors can reverse that trend by putting New Yorkers on the path to a life of voting,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos. “A new generation is rising up and demanding action, and we need those young voices registered and ready to vote. Thank you to Mayor De Blasio, Deputy Mayor Thompson, Chancellor Carranza, and Public Engagement Unit Director Khan for prioritizing registering our high schoolers.”

“The future of our city will be shaped by the very youth that we mobilize to become active participants and not spectators in the democratic process. Civics Week is an incredible opportunity to reiterate the importance of understanding issues, legislative policies, and how the people that we elect into public office intersect. The Student Voter Registration Drive is a catalyst to integrating our city’s youngest voices in the public discourse,” said Councilmember Farah N. Louis.”

“Having these types of events are crucial in strengthening the future of civic engagement. Allowing students to register at 16 and 17 helps foster them to become active participants within their community. It will help to create and nurture a group of future voters that are educated and well versed in how government can impact the quality of their life,” said Councilmember Alan Maisel, District 46.

“Last year, over 18,000 city students registered to vote, said Councilmember Keith Powers. As the next registration drive kicks off, it’s safe to say the future is bright with students as engaged as ever. Thank you to the Mayor’s office for a focus on democracy in our schools.”

“I am proud to join schools across the five boroughs in participating in Civics Week – all students deserve to learn about civics as a fundamental part of their education. As a state, we ranked 42nd in 2018 in terms of voter turnout. Initiatives like Civics Week ensure that young New Yorkers will lead the way in registering to vote and shaping our democracy,” said Councilmember Carlina Rivera.

“Students have been at the forefront of many impactful movements across the globe from environmental justice to comprehensive gun control laws. Empowering them to pre-register to vote and engage in civic activities is our duty and responsibility as elected representatives,” said Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. “We will continue to support our youth and ensure they know the importance and the power of the ballot. I will continue to work alongside Mayor De Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson, my colleagues, and student leaders to ensure no one is left behind during these student voter registration drives.”

“Students have been at the forefront of many impactful movements across the globe from environmental justice to comprehensive gun control laws. Empowering them to pre-register to vote and engage in civic activities is our duty and responsibility as elected representatives,” said uptown Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. “We will continue to support our youth and ensure they know the importance and the power of the ballot. I will continue to work alongside Mayor De Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson, my colleagues, and student leaders to ensure no one is left behind during these student voter registration drives.”

“It’s vital that we demystify democracy for youth if we expect them to participate, said DeNora Getachew, Generation Citizen’s New York Executive Director. Generation Citizen is proud to partner with Mayor de Blasio and the City for Civics Week 2020 to ensure that more youth, including especially those who have historically been told that their voice doesn’t matter, claim their civic power by registering to vote.”

“Broad public awareness on the importance of voting and civic engagement will equip the next generation of young voters to grow into leaders of their city and diverse communities,” said Eddie Cuesta Executive Director of DominicanosUSA. We are proud to partner with the Mayor’s DemocracyNYC Initiative as part of the Student Voter Registration drive to engage every eligible young voter to register ahead of the upcoming election cycles in 2020 and 2021.”

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