Affordable housing leaders helping register people to vote

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Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, a holiday that was established in 2012 to celebrate democracy and register hundreds of thousands of voters annually. In Rochester, the League of Women Voters teamed up with community groups to explain how to reach and register potential voters. 

When someone moves into a new home, Jolie Milstein sees a chance to strengthen democracy. “When they sign someone up with the new lease,” said Milstein, President, and CEO of the News York State Association for Affordable Housing, “It’s a perfect opportunity to encourage people to register to vote or to change their address if they’re already registered.” 

Milstein works with affordable housing across the state and says people with lower incomes have lower voter turnout. She is training the rental managers, landlords, and others to guide their tenants through that process. 

That non-partisan effort is backed by the League of Women Voters. “People in positions like this, who know the residence and trust them,” said former president of the Rochester League of Women Voters Katherine Smith. “We are very excited. We think this will make a big difference in voter turnout.” 

Educating these managers means a familiar face for the tenants to encourage them to make voting a familiar routine. 

“You take your kids with you when you vote, and you make sure you pick up mom and dad who might not be driving and vote. That is what you do on election day. Everyone goes to vote every year,” said Smith. 

This method to get people to the polls is new in New York State, but has shown to work in several other states to get more people registered and voting. Smith says it is a slow process but hopes to see growth year after year.  

Early voting is new for New York State this year and centers are open on October 26th and are open through November 3rd. Election Day is November 5th

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