Rock the Vote Statement on the NYT’s article “Digital-Age Voters in Electoral Limbo”

Today the New York Times printed a factually untrue story about Rock the Vote and young people’s efforts to register to vote.

Even a cursory attempt at fact-checking would have proven that the reporter got the story (“Digital-Age Voters in Electoral Limbo”) wrong when he claimed that Rock the Vote is instructing voters in New York state to send registration forms to the wrong place. And a modest journalistic effort would have revealed what Rock The Vote has been warning for some time: elections officials nationwide are not prepared to process the enormous number of new voter registrations that have been submitted in this election cycle.

Here are the facts: The New York State Board of Elections as well as the federal government’s Elections Assistance Commission, as recently as this morning, confirmed that Rock The Vote has handled the registration process in a correct and exemplary manner.

Recent investigations by our legal team have found that New York State is behind in processing as many as 35,000-40,000 forms as of earlier this week – not because they were sent to the wrong address as the New York Times suggests – but because they don’t have the people or the resources to get it done in a more timely way.

It is a sad day for democracy when our elections system cannot handle increased participation by Americans.

Rock the Vote has worked with over 22,000 partners this year to generate more than 2.54 million downloads of registration forms, including nearly 250,000 in New York State. In addition, Rock the Vote volunteers and staff called, emailed and text messaged every one of these young Americans, repeatedly reminding them to turn in their registration forms.

The New York Times story also criticized our use of celebrities and innovative technology to reach young people. Rock the Vote uses celebrities and technology because those methods clearly work – just look at the numbers.

Now is the time to make sure that each of these voters is on the voter rolls and no amount of last minute complaining about the laws by county and state registrars or misinformed journalists should prevent that.

Increased registration and participation by young voters this cycle was not unexpected. Why is there such a backlog in getting these voters who registered by the deadline on the rolls?  Where are the resources for these strapped election offices to handle this backlog? What is being done to ensure that all those who registered can vote in November?  These are the questions we should be asking.

We have ten days to process these forms and prepare for record turnout on Election Day. Rock the Vote hopes the New York Times and our country’s elections officials will join with us and spend these ten days preparing to usher millions of new voters through our democratic process, not scaring them away.

Read the emails from the New York Board of Elections.