News & Press

Tune In and Meet the Candidates with the Video Voter Guide, Presented By the NYC Voter Assistance Commission

Candidates Statements Begin Running September 7 on WNBC's Digital Channel NY Nonstop and NYC TV Channel 74

Statements also available online at www.nyc.gov/videovoter and www.NBCnewyork.com

September 1, 2009 –
The New York City Voter Assistance Commission (VAC) and its media partners, WNBC and NYC TV, today announced the launch of the Video Voter Guide, an innovative, non-partisan television program that provides free media access to candidates running for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, and all City Council seats. The Guide provides candidates with an opportunity to introduce themselves to New Yorkers, explain their reasons for seeking office and outline the key planks of their platforms. The announcement took place at the NBC Experience Store in Rockefeller Plaza.

“The Video Voter Guide is a unique and valuable public resource, allowing voters to learn more about the candidates seeking to represent them, directly from the candidates themselves,” said VAC Executive Director Onida Coward Mayers. “As a VAC flagship program, the Guide will provide the public with around-the-clock access to candidate statements that will prepare voters to make informed decisions when they step into the voting booth.”

“The Video Voter Guide accomplishes VAC’s mission of delivering non-partisan voter information to all New Yorkers,” said VAC Chairman Dr. Jeffrey F. Kraus. “Working with key government agencies and first-rate media partners, we are able to televise and webcast a comprehensive set of candidate statements. We believe that the Guide will help inform and educate voters about all of their choices.”

This year, the Voter Assistance Commission developed an innovative partnership with WNBC, by which WNBC produced and recorded nearly 200 candidate statements at its studios, and is collaborating with NYC TV and the NYC Media Group to air the shows. The result is a Guide that employs the most up-to-date production methods and technology, enhancing the overall user experience. The partnership also means that the Guide will be broadcast on WNBC’s digital channel NY Nonstop, reaching more than 5 million households in the New York market, in addition to NYC TV Channel 74, which is available in over 2.5 million households Citywide.

“WNBC is honored to be a part of this important Citywide public service effort and to bring the strong resources of our media platforms to the table. NY Nonstop, with its broad reach across the City, will ensure the widest distribution of electoral information,” said Vickie Burns, Vice President of Content and Audience Development, NBC Local Media New York. “Education is key to voter empowerment, and NBC Local Media New York is committed to this endeavor.”

“NYC TV is committed to bringing New Yorkers the kind of content that directly affects their daily lives,” said Acting President of the NYC Media Group Katherine Oliver. “We’re proud to be a part of this collaborative experience that emphasizes the role media can play in supporting the democratic process.”

The Video Voter Guide features taped messages from candidates running for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, and City Council. The length of candidate statements varies by office: Each candidate for City Council is allotted up to two minutes to make a statement; for Borough President, up to three minutes; and for Citywide office (Mayor, Public Advocate and Comptroller), up to four minutes. In addition, the Video Voter Guide uses maps as a backdrop to help viewers locate their neighborhoods and identify their council district.

English and Spanish transcripts for candidates’ statements, as well as Chinese and Korean translations for candidates in targeted districts, can be obtained by visiting www.nyc.gov/videovoter or by calling 311. 

The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) also participated in the Video Voter Guide. The CFB partnered with VAC to notify candidates about the Guide, encourage them to participate and schedule their recording sessions. The CFB’s online Voter Guide will provide links that allow users to access candidates’ Video Voter Guide statements as well.

“Voter education has always been a large part of the Campaign Finance Board’s mission, from sponsoring debates to printing the Citywide Voter Guide,” said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the Campaign Finance Board. “The Video Voter Guide will offer New York City voters another valuable opportunity to arm themselves with information, and we are pleased to have played a role in bringing it to the public.”

More than 180 candidates participated in the Video Voter Guide this year. Participation was voluntary, and required candidates to sign an affidavit accepting basic nonpartisan rules designed to assure the appropriate use of this important public resource. Candidates who appear on the Video Voter Guide were scheduled to appear on the ballot as of the time of program production. If later events resulted in changes in the final ballot, then candidates who appear on this program may not appear on the ballot. In addition, candidates who chose not to participate in the Video Voter Guide do not appear on the program, but are listed online at www.nyc.gov/videovoter.

To ensure the absolute integrity of the Video Voter Guide, VAC worked with the consulting firm KPMG and the non-partisan Center for Governmental Studies, both of whom were present on the set throughout production. While KPMG served as the Guide’s official auditor, overseeing the minutes of production and developing a cablecast order that ensures borough equity, the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), a non-partisan non-profit organization, was engaged to make sure that the production of the Guide was open, fair and non-partisan at all times. CGS is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating innovative political and media solutions to help individuals participate more effectively in their communities through such programs as, for example, the Video Voter Guide.

The Video Voter Guide can be seen each day from September 7th to 15th at noon on WNBC’s digital channel NY Nonstop, New York’s first round-the-clock local information and lifestyle digital channel, which launched in March 2009. The same episode appears later that night on NYC TV Channel 74 at 8:00 pm with an encore airing the next day at 9:00 am. The Video Voter Guide can also be seen online at www.nyc.gov/videovoter and at www.NBCNewYork.com. After the primary on September 15th, a revised version of the Video Voter Guide will begin airing, featuring the candidates running in the general election on November 3rd.

The Video Voter Guide is a project of VAC in partnership with WNBC and NYC TV 74. NYC TV is the official network of the City of New York with innovative programming that highlights the City’s government, culture and history. NYC TV 74 is available to cable subscribers in the five boroughs of New York City and is managed by the NYC Media Group.

Cable Provider

NYC TV

WNBC's NY Nonstop

Time Warner

Channel 74

Channel 161

Comcast

n/a

Channel 248

RCN

Channel 74

Channel 28

Verizon FiOS

Channel 24

Channel 460

Cablevision

Channel 74

Channel 109

Broadcast digital

n/a

Channel 4.2

The role of the Voter Assistance Commission is to encourage and facilitate voter registration and voting by all eligible United States citizens residing in New York City. VAC is strictly non-partisan, and does not promote any candidate for elected office, political party, or political agenda. VAC’s mission is to increase voter participation, education and awareness in the democratic process.

The Campaign Finance Board is a non-partisan, independent City agency that serves the public interest by enhancing the role of New York City residents in the electoral process. Through its administration of the Campaign Finance Program, created in 1988, the CFB educates voters about the candidates and enables more citizens to compete for City office. The Program amplifies the impact of New Yorkers’ small contributions by matching them with public funds, reducing the possibility and the perception of corruption associated with large contributions and unlimited campaign spending.

Contact:

NYC Voter Assistance Commission
Evelyn Erskine: 212-788-2958

NYC Campaign Finance Board
Eric Friedman: 212-309-7116

WNBC
Anna Carbonell: 212-664-5247

NYC Media Group
Julianne Cho/Marybeth Ihle: 212-489-6710

NYC Voter Assistance Commision
NYC Campaign Finance Board
NYC Board of Elections
NYC TV Channel 74
The Center for Governmental Studies Video Voter information
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