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The Governor issued a new Executive Order specific to election changes. The new changes include:
Boards of Elections will include paid return postage for all absentee ballots for the June primary.
All village & town elections scheduled to be held in March, April, May, or June will be held on September 15, 2020.
School board/budget elections are scheduled for June 9th and will be held via mail with return postage included. Each district will send out postcard notice which details the date of the election, date of budget hearing, definition of qualified voter, and an absentee ballot.
The Governor's order recognizes that absentee ballot requests submitted before his Executive Orders on absentee voting will still be valid without further action by the voter.
Boards of Elections must also make available at their offices a voting system that is accessible for voters wishing to mark their ballot privately and independently.
We are very pleased to report that the NYS League of Women Voters has approved the mini-grant application recently submitted by our Schenectady County League in collaboration with the Albany and Rensselaer County Leagues to fund GET OUT THE VOTE ads to be placed on CDTA buses for the period 9/3/20 to 11/3/20. The State League has agreed to underwrite the cost of ten CDTA bus ads in the three counties, primarily in the cities of Schenectady, Albany and Troy, where there is the greatest population density in the Capital Region. In more good news, and in an eﬀort to further expand our GOTV message, the three County Leagues have each approved a supplemental expenditure to enable us to increase the number of bus ads from 10 to 15, which will signiﬁcantly improve the visibility of our eﬀorts.
We are also working with the Saratoga County League to utilize an ad design that our sister league is using for GOTV t-shirts and intends to use for lawn signs. This will further expand the exposure of consistent attention-getting GOTV messaging by the Capital Region Leagues
We are grateful to the County Leagues in our region, and to the State League, for their enthusiastic collaboration on this important initiative!
This week, LWVNY presented an on-line training with discussion on empowering Voters with Disabilities. Helen Charland of Disability Rights NY, and Kevin Greenstein led the discussion. It is the goal of Self Advocates of New York State, SANYS, to enfranchise all voters in New York State, and Helen Charland noted that only a judge can deem a person ineligible to vote, a proceeding outside of guardianship determinations.
The Developmental Disabilities Planning Council will offer grants to help LWV chapters develop programs to help meet the need for education and advocacy for voters with disabilities.
LWV Schenectady looks forward to further details, because, as Kevin Greenstein stated, "By getting involved, we can all make a difference.”
Submitted by Cindy Weissend
The procedure for school budget votes and school board elections has changed this year, yet another result of COVID-19. According to Governor Cuomo’s executive order, every resident will receive an absentee ballot. There will not be any in-person voting for school elections.
There may be a very short turn-around time to return your ballot by the deadline of June 9. If you think your ballot may not arrive at the school district in time, call your school district office to see if there is a dropbox at one of your schools.
A number of school districts have competitive elections for school board this year, probably due to Governor Cuomo’s executive order allowing candidates to self-nominate. (Who would have thought that a simpler ballot access process would induce more people to run for office?! Other than the League of Women Voters, of course.)
We typically run a Candidate Forum for candidates running for the Schenectady City School District Board of Education. Since that won’t be possible this year, we have asked each of the six candidates running for three seats to answer a set of questions. We will post their responses on our website at http://www.lwvschenectady.org/ by June 3.
Cheryl Nechamen, Voter Services Chair
In Schenectady County, the problem of low voter turnout is apparent, even in presidential election years. In 2016 (the last presidential election year) the percentage of registered voters who actually voted in the county was at its highest over the past four years, at 70%, while in 2017 it was 37%, in 2018 it was 59%, and in 2019 it was 31%. Our County League began in 2018 to develop initiatives to improve voter turnout, but limited resources have forced reliance on free (e.g. school district electronic signs at school entrances, announcements at school sports events, letters to the editor) and low cost initiatives like posters and lawn signs. Funding by the State League could make a real diﬀerence in getting out our message.
In an exciting new development, the Schenectady, Albany and Rensselaer County Leagues have agreed to join forces to apply for a collaborative grant from the State League which would greatly enhance any eﬀorts that each of our county leagues could undertake on its own. We have agreed to seek funding for banners/ads on CDTA buses running in the Schenectady, Albany and Troy communities, focusing particularly on high population density/low voter turnout routes. If approved, the grant would enable us to get our message out as broadly as possible to encourage the public across the Capital Region to exercise the right to vote. If the grant is approved, we are hopeful that we, acting together, can signiﬁcantly improve participation by our county and region in what is our most sacred right and duty: participation in our democracy.
We greatly appreciate the State League of Women Voters for its support for GETTING OUT THE VOTE!
As of this writing (4/27/20), all voters will be allowed to vote via absentee ballot for the June 23rd primaries. The ﬁrst step in absentee voting is to request an absentee ballot by sending in an absentee ballot application. Once the Board of Elections has veriﬁed that you are a qualiﬁed voter, you will be sent an absentee ballot.
A recent Executive Order allows county Boards of Elections to send a postage-paid absentee ballot application to all voters. It's not clear whether the decision to send an application is up to the county Boards of Elections or if it will be done automatically.
At any rate, voters should check the box for "temporary illness or physical disability" as their reason for requesting an absentee ballot.
The deadlines for voting remain the same. The deadline for voter registration for the June primary is May 29. Applications for absentee ballots must be postmarked by June 16 and the actual ballot must be postmarked by June 22.
Voter Services Chair
Once we've scheduled voter registration events, we'll send out an email to everyone who's expressed an interest in volunteering to sign up. If you don't think you're on my list, please email Cheryl Nechamen.
Voter Services Chair
Schenectady County Turnout (% of actual voters v. registered voters*)
2016: 70% 2017: 37% 2018: 59% 2019: 35%
[*Note: Data are not available to determine the number of persons eligible to vote versus the number of persons registered to vote. We assume that much more can be done to register eligible voters as well as improve actual voter turnout]
In addition to the County-wide turnout, we reviewed the turnout by city/town within the County, and determined that our get out the vote (GOTV) efforts should be focused on the areas of lowest turnout and greatest population concentrations. The City of Schenectady has approximately one third of the County population, but in each election year, has had a voter turnout among registered voters at least 10% lower than the County average. In addition, within the City, wide variation has existed among voting districts, with some in the 2019 election as low as 10% turnout, and some as high as 36%. This data is useful in determining where our efforts would produce the most significant improvement in turnout, within neighborhoods and across the entire County.
Much of the difference in turnout by year is attributable, of course, to the offices for which elections are conducted. Thus in 2016, a presidential election year, the turnout was highest among all years reviewed. 2018 was a statewide/congressional election year, and had the next highest turnout, while 2017 and 2019 were local only election years with the lowest turnout (37% and 35% respectively).
Since 2019 was the first year in which New York conducted extended voting, we also looked at whether the data for comparable election years (2017 and 2019, both local only election years) showed any change in voter turnout. Unfortunately, extended voting does not appear to have improved turnout in 2019 compared to 2017
--in fact, the 2019 County-wide turnout was 6% lower than in 2017. More data will need to be reviewed in coming years to determine whether extended voting dates make an appreciable difference in turnout, compared to other factors such as number of offices/candidates in contention.
The League's GOTV efforts in the coming years will be expanded as much as possible, particularly in lowest turnout communities. We have in the past distributed posters and lawn signs directly and at neighborhood association meetings (at which we have also provided neighborhood-specific data); asked school districts throughout the County to place voting reminders on their electronic billboards outside their schools as well as announce reminders at home sports events; written letters to the editor, and shared data for newspaper articles in the Gazette; placed lawn signs and posters at public libraries and colleges in the County and other venues. More work needs to be done, and new ideas for improving turnout are needed too!
If you are interested in getting involved with the League's GOTV efforts, please email Pauline Kinsella, GOTV coordinator. We will be scheduling a brainstorming meeting in the near future, and your participation would be most welcome!
Goal: To educate voters on the issues; to stimulate voter interest; to encourage voter participation in elections; to present programs in a nonpartisan manner.
1. All candidates for office who meet New York State election law requirements to be on the ballot are eligible to take part in candidate forums. No substitutes will be permitted to take the place of a candidate.
2. Candidate for office who have no opponents can not take part in the formal candidate forum. Candidates with no opponents may attend the forum and be recognized and, although not allowed to speak at that time, can speak individually to the voters following the formal part of the event. These candidates will be recognized if they attend and the reason they are not speaking will be explained. The moderator will announce that the program has allowed time at the end of the forum for unopposed candidates to speak individually to those attending.
3. No video or audio taping of candidate debates, or parts thereof, is permitted except by those previously authorized by the League of Women Voters to officially tape the event.
4. Candidates' literature will be allowed to be distributed on tables placed near the entrance to the forum location.
5. The League reserves the right to cancel the forum if circumstances warrant.
6. Candidates will be sent copies of these policies when they are invited to participate in the forum. Any subsequent changes to the program format will be communicated to the candidates prior to the program.
Glenville Town Board meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at the Municipal Center, 7:30 p.m.
Rotterdam Town Board meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at Assembly Hall, 7:30 p.m.
Niskayuna Town Board: Call 518-386-4592 for the schedule.
The above is a web-site maintained by the SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE, a service of the Schenectady County Public Library.
- Builds citizen participation in the democratic process.
- Studies key community issues at all government levels in an unbiased manner.
- Enables people to seek positive solutions to public policy issues through education and conflict management.
Donations to the Education Fund, a 501(c)(3)corporation, are fully tax-deductible where allowed by law.