One of CPU’s primary goals is to increase political engagement both at Columbia and throughout New York City. Between federal, state, city, and borough levels of government, New York City offers ample opportunities to contribute to civic engagement through local politics. Fall 2022 will coincide with increasing campaign activity ahead of the 2022 federal general elections and state legislature races. We view increasing our commitment and contribution to local politics as a major part of CPU’s future growth and fundamental to our goal of civic engagement.
Currently, the Columbia Political Union Local Elections Initiative runs the following programming. However, we're always open to new ideas! If you have any ideas for initiatives to further engagement in the Columbia community in local elections, we’d love to help you develop them under this umbrella.
Voting and Poll Worker Registration
Voting registration is a well-known method of increasing civic participation and making elections more democratic. However, poll worker registration is a lesser-known necessity for functioning elections. Elections largely rely on volunteers to run polling stations, leading to a significant lack of volunteers in a majority of cases. New York in particular suffers from such a deficiency, due to the inadequate Board of Elections and the sheer number of polling stations required to conduct elections in the city. CPU aims to help members of the Columbia community register to vote and serve as poll workers during elections.
Debates and Civic Engagement
New York City has a plethora of elected officials, many of whom serve crucial roles largely out of the public eye. This past spring, in order to raise public awareness, CPU held a forum with the Manhattan Borough President candidates. Through holding such candidate debates and illuminating the role of NYC public officials, CPU aims to increase civic engagement among the general public.
Many political research projects and political processes, such as redistricting, make use of detailed analysis of election results and demographic data. However, high quality data takes a lot of work to create and is not always easily accessible. CPU aims to analyze New York elections to develop these datasets and make them publicly available and open source.