METRO IAF TALLIES 20,000 VOTERS

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A network of neighborhood organizations that threw itself into voter mobilization last November says Board of Elections figures show it got 20,000 people across the city to go to the polls. If the Metropolitan Industrial Areas Foundation, whose affiliates include long-time organizing powerhouses in East New York and the South Bronx as well as newer groups in East Harlem and on the West Side, can double that turnout in the fall, its number of voters will approach Rudy Giuliani’s margin of victory over David Dinkins.

Comparing the turnout of registered voters they had contacted with the turnout of those in the same neighborhood they had not contacted, the organizations found they had boosted turnout by about 10 percent, said Dave Fleischer, Metro IAF’s lead voter mobilization organizer.

Overall, Fleischer said, voter turnout nationwide and in New York City was down in comparison to the 1992 presidential election. But in East New York, a neighborhood that usually has low turnout, it was up by 2 percent.

Vonda Brunsting, lead organizer for West Siders Together, said 81 percent of the registered voters who signed the group’s voter pledge cards went to the polls. Only 59 percent of registered voters citywide voted, she said.

Metro IAF’s approach is non-partisan; the organization’s priority is to create a “voting culture.”

“We want to change the way every candidate for office sees the neighborhoods where we work,” said Fleischer. “The thing we’re trying to teach people is that who they vote for matters a lot less than that they vote, because when we all vote, the politicians will treat our neighborhoods with respect.”