Law and Disorder Radio

Community Votes

Community Votes

The Queensbridge House public housing project in Long Island City Queens is the largest such complex in the country. With more than 7,000 residents, it’s a community with little faith in civic engagement. Like other public housing communities, and low-income neighborhoods in general, poor people vote at considerably lower rates than wealthier ones. Many feel apathetic, that the system is rigged, and that their votes don’t matter.

One nonprofit in NYC is using innovative partnerships with community-based social service organizations to conduct nonpartisan voter mobilization so more underrepresented citizens participate in our democracy.

Community Votes is trying to change the culture and mindset of large nonprofit social service agencies so they integrate into their day-to-day operations civic engagement activities. These activities include promoting awareness of elections and issues and encouraging voting and other participation in federal, state, and city policy making. A few years ago Community Votes partnered with the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a longtime provider of social services in the Queensbridge Houses, to engage in personalized messaging to mobilize voters. The results were a considerably higher rate of voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Guest – Louisa Hackett is the director of Community Votes. Louisa founded Community Votes in 2013. Through her work at Community Resource Exchange providing consulting services to New York City nonprofit organizations, she recognized the assets direct service organizations have to turn more citizens into voters.

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