Archive for

Election Day

Go Vote!

Columbia University and SIPA is closed on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th.  We’ll be back in the office on Wednesday so don’t despair!

In the meantime, check out this great project and related information from SIPA!, an exciting project and website to promote civic engagement and information awareness launched earlier this semester. Professor Ester Fuchs, Director of the Urban and Social Policy (USP) concentration, the USP program coordinator and SIPA Alumni, Nina Robbins (’11) and their team have developed an incredible and comprehensive website for voters in New York City.

The website also reflects any and all changes in poll sites due to Hurricane Sandy and any other changes leading up to Election Day.


[Under the direction of Columbia University Public Affairs Professor Ester Fuchs, is a non-partisan voter education website that provides New York City citizens with easy access to election information in English, Spanish and Chinese. Simply by entering their address, users receive polling place information (including a map and directions), a customized list of candidates with links to websites, and sample ballots tailored to their district that will appear on their ballot on Election Day.

 During the past 20 years, turnout in New York City mayoral elections has dropped by a staggering 40 percent.

 “Building on research showing that easily accessible election information can lead to higher voter turnout, we wanted to create an online portal that provides citizens with everything they need to know about elections in one place,” said Fuchs.

 In addition to the convenient polling place locator, citizens can also sign up for election reminders, access registration and absentee ballot applications and link to non-partisan civic resources like the Citizens Union and the Campaign Finance Board Voter Guide.

 The project was originally conceived by Columbia graduate William von Mueffling, a former student of Fuchs’ who expressed frustration after wasting several hours searching various city and state websites to locate who was on his district’s ballot and where he was supposed to vote. Mr. von Mueffling grew “tired of going to vote and only seeing candidates for the first time when they were up for election.”

 Consequently, von Mueffling issued a challenge to Fuchs last year, telling her if she was able to collect the data and develop an outreach plan, he would fund the website project.

“Now, with one key stroke, information-starved New Yorkers can learn in advance who they will be voting for as well as see links to the candidates’ web pages,” von Mueffling said. “With the website, now there is “no reason not to vote.”]  — excerpt taken from the project’s October 26 press release.


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—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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