Contact: Lauren Hiznay Goodman
NEW SURVEY REVEALS THAT 76% OF LONG ISLANDERS SUPPORT MOVING SPECIAL DISTRICT ELECTIONS, TAKING PLACE NEXT WEEK, TO MAY
Long Island Index Also Unveils An Updated Online Tool To Help Voters Know WhichSpecial Elections They Can Vote In – Out Of 157 Taking Place Next Week
Garden City, NY – December 2, 2014 – The Long Island Index, a project of the Rauch Foundation, announced today the results of two initiatives designed to encourage greater voter participation in special district elections on Long Island. Upcoming elections will take place on Tuesday, December 9th.
First, the Long Island Index released the findings of a recent telephone-based survey – conducted by the Center for Survey Research at Stony Brook University – on attitudes about special districts. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Long Islanders said they had not voted in a special district election in the past year. Low participation is the norm for special district elections; however, 76% also said that they would support the idea of changing the time of these elections so that they would occur at the same time as school board elections and budget votes in May.
Many groups have advocated for such a change in order to increase participation in the elections and expand knowledge of the issues. John McNally from the Energeia Partnership, whose Partners are advocating for state adoption of a single voting date for special districts, said, “These findings make clear that the vast majority of Long Island residents are open to streamlining the voting process, which could be a major step toward increasing transparency, civic engagement and voter turnout.”
The survey also found that there is nearly 2:1 support (62% vs. 32%) for considering the consolidation of non-emergency services into county-wide districts in order to cut costs. With 665 different types of districts across Long Island providing basic services – such as fire, police, sanitation, water, schools and libraries – there is tremendous potential to realize savings.
Second, the Long Island Index announced the availability of an updated, interactive, online tool to help Long Island voters navigate the 157 special district elections taking place on Tuesday, December 9th. The online tool lets voters know in which elections they are eligible to vote. It can be more than one.
“With such an extraordinary number of elections taking place on one day, it’s hard to know where to vote,” said Ann Golob, Director of the Long Island Index. “This online tool lets Long Islanders know in an instant, based on where they live, which elections they can vote in.” The updated tool – available free of charge at http://mydistricts.longislandindexmaps.org – enables users in Nassau and Suffolk counties to enter their address and learn which special districts serve them, when elections will take place, and information about their polling location and the hours that polls are open.
“Democracy depends on voter participation,” said Nancy Rauch Douzinas, President of the Rauch Foundation and Publisher of the Long Island Index. “We need to do more to make it easier to participate.”
The online tool, which was created last year and has now been updated, is the latest feature offered by the Long Island Index’s interactive map of government service providers that was developed in collaboration with the Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Steven Romalewski, Director of the Graduate Center’s Mapping Service, noted, “This interactive tool is designed so that it can be easily embedded in other websites to increase access to the information, or you can share direct links to your districts.” An example link to a specific district is http://bit.ly/1bSUxxC.
The map is the result of a comprehensive project to delineate all service provider boundaries using computer-mapping software, which integrates data on special districts from multiple sources. The maps are intended to give taxpayers and service providers a common and consistent basis for discussing special district issues.
Findings from Survey1
Following are the findings from the survey on special districts:
1. At present, in many areas of Long Island, non-emergency services such as water, garbage, libraries and road maintenance, are run by a number of local districts. In order to cut costs, to what extent would you support or oppose the consolidation of nonemergency services into single county-wide districts?
2. We have a number of different local elections in our area. As you may know, elections for federal, state and local government officials are held in November. Elections for school board members and school budgets are held in May. Elections for other districts, such as the police, fire, library, and sewer, are held throughout the year. Please think back over the last 12 months and tell me whether or not you were able to vote in one of these OTHER elections that was held OTHER than in May or November.
3. Do you happen to remember the type of district in which you voted (e.g., police, fire, water, library, or sanitation)?
|Other (including any two or more districts)||34%|
4. Not many people vote in these district elections. How strongly do you favor or oppose changing the time of these district elections and budget votes, so that they occur at the same time as school board elections and budget votes in May?
About the Rauch Foundation
The Rauch Foundation (www.rauchfoundation.org), which funds the Long Island Index, is a Long Island-based family foundation that invests in ideas and organizations that spark and sustain early success in children and systemic change in our communities. The Foundation was established in 1961 by Louis Rauch and Philip Rauch, Jr. Funding for the Foundation was made possible by the success of the Ideal Corporation, an auto parts manufacturer founded in 1913 by their father, Philip Rauch, Sr.
The Long Island Index – conducted annually since 2004 – is available for download at www.longislandindex.org. The Long Island Index interactive maps, an online resource with detailed demographic, residential, transportation and educational information, as well as the Build a Better Burb website, are also accessible from the Index’s website.
About the Center for Urban Research
The Center for Urban Research (http://www.urbanresearch.org), housed within the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), organizes basic research on the critical issues that face New York and other large cities in the United States and abroad. It collaborates on applied research with public agencies, nonprofit organizations and other partners, and holds forums for the media, foundations, community organizations and others about urban research at the Graduate Center and elsewhere across the CUNY system. The CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research assists organizations in realizing the geographic and mapping dimensions of their activities.
About the Graduate Center, CUNY
The Graduate Center (GC) is the principal doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York. Offering more than thirty doctoral degrees from Anthropology to Urban Education, and fostering globally significant research in a wide variety of centers and institutes, the GC affords rigorous academic training in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences in a Ph.D.- focused, scholarly environment. It is home to a core faculty of approximately 150 teachers and mentors, virtually all senior scholars, and many leaders in their disciplines. This faculty is enhanced by more than 1,800 faculty from across the CUNY colleges, as well as from cultural, academic, and scientific institutions throughout New York City and beyond. Through its extensive public programs including lectures, conferences, performances, exhibitions, and conversations, the Graduate Center contributes to the intellectual and cultural life of New York City and affirms our commitment to the premise that knowledge is a public good.