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See You at Voterfest: Our Civic Newsroom is Headed Outdoors

People gather in Astoria Park ahead of an outdoor movie, May 21, 2021.
People gather in Astoria Park as public life starts to rebound.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

The subways are running around the clock again, restaurants are welcoming back customers and nearly half of the adults in the city are at least half way to vaccination.

With public life rebounding and the citywide primary election quickly approaching, the next round of Civic Newsroom — our wide-ranging effort to better understand what voters need and want to know — will be outside. In other words: You are officially invited to Voterfest 2021!

The local primary election on June 22 will have huge consequences for the future of New York. Since the city leans heavily Democratic, the winners in the primary usually take the general election.

Still, voter turnout in New York’s local primaries has been extremely low in recent years. In 2017, only 15% of registered Democratic voters voted in the mayoral primary.

We want as many people as possible to participate in the civic process this year and vote. So what better way to spread the word about voting than throwing a COVID-safe Civic Newsroom event?

We’ll be hosting three outdoor gatherings in collaboration with local organizations in the three neighborhoods: Mott Haven in The Bronx, Brownsville in Brooklyn and Flushing in Queens. There will be music, locally catered food, a collaborative art project — and information and activities to help you learn more about the coming election.

We’re also following all the CDC and state guidelines for gathering outdoors, including wearing masks, socially distancing and providing hand sanitizer.

The Where and When

Here’s the schedule of events:

At each Voterfest event, we’ll have stations with activities and information to learn about how ranked choice voting works, the offices up for grabs, where you can vote and how you align with the mayoral candidates on key issues (through our Meet Your Mayor tool).

Building off the Civic Newsroom

The events will build on what our team has already been doing to share key information and foster conversations about why these elections are such a big deal.

We’ve written newsletters, reported stories on what you need to know about the election, sent text messages, held a series of virtual gatherings and broken some news. We’ve even started producing audio explainers that you can listen to on the go.

We’ve heard from thousands of New Yorkers over the past few months, and we’ve read all of your questions. You said you still aren’t totally sure how ranked choice voting will work, and you want to be clear on who will be on your ballot and what duties the different offices entail.

In addition to the race for mayor, you care about the contests down the ballot, like City Council and borough president. And you want to help your neighbors participate in the civic process, too.

We know that a lot of times news doesn’t spread through just stories, it spreads through neighbors. We’re hoping Voterfest will be a place to find information to help you navigate the elections in your neighborhood.

We’re working with local partners in each neighborhood: South Bronx Unite and Nos Quedamos in Mott Haven; Brooklyn Public Library in Brownsville; and MinKwon Center for Community Action, APA VOICE and the Chinese American Planning Council in Flushing.

You can drop by for 15 minutes or hang out all afternoon. There will be opportunities to ask questions, chat with your neighbors and enjoy a bite. We hope you’ll join us — and we really hope you’ll vote in the primary.

If you have any ideas, questions, or would like to help out in some way, you can email us at civicnewsroom@thecity.nyc, or text or call us at 917-720-6245.

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