20,000 and Counting

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

Organizers compared the turnout of registered voters they had contacted with the turnout of those in same neighborhood they had not the contacted concluding they had boosted turnout by about 10 percent says Dave Fleischer Metro IAFs lead voter mobilization organizer.

Overall Fleischer says 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, says 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,” says 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.”

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