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October 23, 2008


Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott today joined New York City Voter Assistance Commission (VAC) Executive Director Onida Coward-Mayers, Academy of Urban Planning High School Principal Monique Darrisaw, Future Voters of America Executive Director Francine Baras, and partners including the Department of Education, City University of New York, Jack and Jill of America and Con Edison to launch Youth Voter Education Day at the Academy of Urban Planning in Bushwick, Brooklyn. More than 300 students took part in this event, which began with a student panel discussion about Election 2008moderated by CUNY Adjunct Professor Tara Hickman. Panelists included student representatives from Future Voters of America, the Academy of Urban Planning, and Jack and Jill of America. Youth Voter Education Day is part of Voter Awareness Month a citywide nonpartisan campaign to promote voter education, awareness, and participation in New York City, state and federal elections.

“As students understand their fundamental right to vote is one that they should be fully prepared for, providing outlets where their voices can be heard such as today's panel is an important step in this development,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “We believe that this exciting new program will empower young leaders to express their thoughts and vision for a strong electoral future for our country.”

“Youth Voter Education Day provides opportunities for our first time voters to learn about our country's electoral process and to engage them in dialogue about the democratic process,” said VAC Executive Director Onida Coward-Mayers. “Young people will have a strong voice in our upcoming elections and we need them to be best prepared as they come of voting age.”

As part of Youth Voter Education Day, VAC provided access to voter curriculum which was made available to teachers via the VAC website, the Daily news, CUNY and the Knowledge Network, and from Future Voters of America. Voter Education Day is just one of many activities taking place during Voter Awareness Month in which more than 100 non-partisan voter registration drives and events are held throughout the five boroughs. Voter Awareness Month is by far the most extensive pre-election non-partisan voter education program in New York City.

“We are pleased to open our school for students around the city to share theirs thoughts and opinions,” said Academy of Urban Planning Principal Monique Darrisaw. “As first-time voters the students have many questions and this panel will help to empower them.”

“Future Voters of America's mission is to build educated and active citizens during the high school year,” said Future Voters of America Executive Francine Baras. “Our current campaign, Resolution #1348, is to allow 16 and 17 year olds to serve on community boards in New York City with the power to vote.”

About the New York City Voter Assistance Commission

The New York City Voter Assistance Commission encourages and facilitates voter registration and voting by all eligible United States citizens residing in New York City. VAC is strictly nonpartisan, and does not promote any candidate for elected office, political party, or political agenda. VAC's mission is to increase participation in the democratic process by monitoring voter registration and voting in New York City. VAC also works with Mayoral agencies, private groups and individuals, as well as with community-based organizations to promote voter registration and voter participation.
For a complete list of over 150 voter events and activities throughout the five boroughs call 311 or visit the VAC website at


Andrew Brent / Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

Onida Coward-Mayers (Voter Assistance Commission)   (212) 788-8384

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