Op-Ed | New Yorkers must go out there and flip the vote in favor of racial equity

august primary 2022
New Yorkers vote in the Aug. 23 primary on the Upper East Side.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

This upcoming General Election will be unlike any other for NYC. Besides choosing their preferred candidates for different offices, for the first time ever, NYC voters will also have the opportunity to vote “Yes” or “No” on three racial justice proposals intended to reduce barriers and promote racial equity.

These proposals will appear on the back of the ballot and seek to amend the City Charter. Therefore, it is very important that all NYC voters get informed, get out to vote, flip the ballot, and make an informed choice in this historic election.

The City Charter, sometimes referred to as the City’s constitution, defines the organization, powers, functions, and essential procedures of City government in the five boroughs. This is separate from our State’s Constitution and our National Constitution.

In March 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the formation of the NYC Racial Justice Commission (RJC), a Charter Revision Commission with a two-year mandate to identify and develop proposals to root out structural racism within City government. The Commission is comprised of 11 commissioners hailing from every borough who represent diverse backgrounds and experiences. To develop their proposals, the Commission listened to national thought leaders, advocates, City agency experts, and everyday New Yorkers. Following robust public engagement, the Commission delivered three racial equity-focused proposals to amend the City Charter to the City Clerk in December 2021.

These three proposals will appear on New York City voters’ ballots in the upcoming November 2022 General Election.

The RJC’s three racial equity proposals would, if approved:
 Add a statement of values to guide City government;
 Establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan and Commission; and
 Measure the true cost of living.

All registered voters in NYC should take time to learn the specifics of what the proposals entail and vote “Yes” or “No” on each proposal. The questions will appear on the back of the ballot, and abstracts in multiple languages will be available at polling sites. The RJC’s website also has detailed information about the proposals, including translations of the ballot questions and abstracts in 14 different languages. Please visit the website at nyc.gov/racialjustice to read more about each proposal, including the intentions behind them.

In the lead-up to the election, the RJC has launched a citywide, non-partisan voter education campaign that includes multimedia and multilingual outreach, canvassing, and hosting forums and special events with volunteers and community partners, among other strategies to inform and educate NYC voters about the three unprecedented racial justice proposals. The goal is to ensure that all 5.5 million registered voters in NYC make their voices heard by turning the ballot over and making an informed decision.

The General Election is scheduled for Nov. 8 (early voting starts on Oct. 29). Every electoral process should be taken seriously, and this election is no exception. Together, NYC voters have the power to decide the future of our City.

Harold Miller is the Executive Director of the NYC Racial Justice Commission.