By Tom Reynolds, SCOPE President and Tracy Marisa, Chemung County
To Vote Or Not —There Really Isn’t Any Question
Asking SCOPE members to turn out and vote is like preaching to the choir. That’s true; or at least we hope it is.
A famous writer said that we humans tend to “…remove the organ and demand the function”. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful. In other words, given how little emphasis there has been on civic engagement in these past few decades, why are we surprised that our voting muscles have atrophied?
Whether you need some encouragement yourself to get out and vote or whether you would never miss an opportunity to vote but you know people who would have to be dragged to a polling place kicking and screaming, it may be worth a few minutes looking at some of the reasons why folks don’t turn out to vote in November and what the rest of us can do about it.
excuse reason heard why gun owners are not registering to vote is that they don’t want to be called for jury duty.
The following are the ways NYS puts together its list of potential jurors (from the state website): “Potential jurors are randomly selected from lists of registered voters, holders of drivers’ licenses or ID’s issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles, New York State income tax filers, recipients of unemployment insurance or family assistance, and from volunteers.” Not registering to vote is not going to save someone from their civic duty of sitting on a jury. Register to vote and then perform another one of the relatively few civic duties we actually have to do—turn out and vote.
Also, we need people on juries who believe that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should not be tossed out the window. There are more than enough of the other sort as potential jurors out there and we don’t need to cede more territory to the other side, in court or elsewhere, by simply not being there. Picture yourself on trial for a Safe Act violation and all 2A supporters avoided jury duty. 75% of life is just showing up.
2020 is, as we know, a presidential election year and while that generates a lot of interest, in NYS it may also lead to the next reason that people don’t vote: the feeling that their vote doesn’t count. But that may only apply to the presidential election in this coming November. All other lines on the ballot are totally up for grabs and the winner will be the candidate who can get the greatest number of people to turn out and vote for him or her. Many local elections are won by very few votes, usually a half-dozen or fewer, and in some cases by only one vote. It happens more often than you think.
For those elections that are literally closest to where you live—town, village, city, county—people’s individual votes absolutely do matter. Some of those candidates running for local office are on the same page with us (re: the Second Amendment) and some are definitely not. You should know which are which.
Some of the reasons why folks don’t turn out to vote in November and what the rest of us can do about it.
Voting requires some planning ahead, if you have not registered.
IN PERSON REGISTRATION (N.Y. Election Law Sections 5-210, 5-211, 5-212) You may register at your local board of elections or any state agency participating in the National Voter Registration Act, on any business day throughout the year but, to be eligible to vote in the General Election, your application must be received no later than October 9, 2020.
MAIL IN REGISTRATION (N.Y. Election Law Section 5-210(3))
Applications must be postmarked no later than October 9, 2020 and received by a board of elections no later than October 14, 2020 to be eligible to vote in the General Election.
If you’ve changed your address, you need to re-register to vote.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS (N.Y. Election Law Section 5-208(3))
Notices of change of address from registered voters (must be) received by a county board of elections by October 14,
Tired of voting for the lesser of two evils?
Vote in next year’s party primary, when your vote selects the candidates and where your vote is more meaningful because fewer people vote. To vote in next year’s primary, you must be registered in that party before this November’s election.
With governmental offices being closed much more than usual, you can go to https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingRegister.html to download the registration form. For those who have access to a printer, it would be a kindness to your unregistered friends and neighbors who might not have internet access if you printed a few of the forms and had them handy for them to fill out.
As of this writing (late July), county boards of elections were awaiting state guidance regarding covid-19 and absentee voting for the November 3rd general election. At this time, voters are not able to use covid-19 as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot. However, legitimate illness, disability, absence and so forth are valid reasons to request an absentee ballot. Again, people with internet access and a printer can help out people who don’t have those things.
- Applications for Absentee Ballots are available at your county board of elections. You may also download a PDF version of the New York State Absentee Ballot Application Form
- Download English Form ( pdf 485KB)
- Applications must be mailed to your county board no later than October 27th or delivered in person no later than the day before the election.
- You may request an Absentee Ballot by sending a letter to your county board of elections. The letter must be received by your county board no earlier than 30 days and no later than seven days before the election.
Ignorance is no excuse.
Close to Election Day, county boards of elections generally publish sample ballots online that represent exactly the ballots that voters will be handed at their polling places. This is yet another way that people with internet access can help those without. There is no reason, anymore, why people shouldn’t already know whose name will appear on various lines before they enter their polling place. While voting might have seemed to be mysterious in the past and used as an excuse for not voting (or voting ignorantly), that is no longer the case.
November 3rd — please vote, and encourage your friends, neighbors, and family members to vote. Pick them up and buy them a coffee or a soda if that helps grease the wheels a little. We can change things but we have to use the weapon at our disposal and not leave it holstered — voting.