Helen speaks to students at La Guardia High School on Student Voter Registration Day (March 18, 2016) Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council
In her first two years in office, Helen set aside $1 million in infrastructure funding for projects thought up and voted on by residents in a process called Participatory Budgeting (PB). In the 2014-15 PB season, residents suggested hundreds of ideas, and over 2,000 Upper West Siders voted on the final ballot. Voting week for the 2016-17 PB season is March 25 - April 2.
Young voters (between the ages of 18 and 30) have the lowest voter turnout rate in New York City; only 11% of this group voted in the 2013 mayoral election. Along with NYC Votes (part of the NYC Campaign Finance Board) and the New York Immigration Coalition, Helen’s office initiated Student Voter Registration Day (SVRD), a day of civic engagement and voter registration in public schools. In 2016 SVRD registered 8,500 students (on a single day) in time to vote in the presidential primary, and it brought civic education to thousands more. This successful event built upon a 2015 pilot program, which brought civic education to over 3,000 students and registered over 2,000 of them to vote. Students who aren't eligible to vote can still participate in other ways, like volunteering for an issue they care about or voting in Participatory Budgeting.