Mayor de Blasio Shares New Ideas for Improving NYC’s Democracy

Last night, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his fifth State of the City address at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. He offered 70 minutes worth of proposals, the bulk of which related to his new 10-point DemocracyNYC plan. The plan focuses on electoral and democratic reforms that should expand New Yorkers’ ability to participate fairly in our elections.

The Mayor observed that, “We have some of the most unfair and exclusionary election laws of any state in the country.” And at Tech:NYC, we agree that needs to change, urgently. We salute Mayor de Blasio’s focus on these issues and look forward to learning more about the specific proposals.

Some of his ideas included:

  • Appointing a “chief democracy officer” to focus on expanding civic participation in the city, including registering 1.5 million new voters;

  • Communicating election information to voters more clearly and immediately;

  • Expanding the public financing system for local elections, so that candidates spend less time raising money; and

  • Adding new electronic and digital security to protect the city’s voting system.

These proposals come as Tech:NYC joins a coalition supporting automatic voter registration at the state level, in line with recent proposals from Governor Cuomo. Our member companies know that an engaged citizenship makes for a better and more productive government and believe that technology can help improve voter access and participation.

As our Executive Director Julie Samuels explained to Politico (subscription required) this week, “When you think about the things that technologists know how to do, it’s build systems, it’s solve problems, and that’s really what we’re talking about when we're talking about voting and what we need to do to fix it.”