So it’s two days before Election Day and you’re already coming up with excuses as to why you’re not going to bother to vote.
My vote doesn’t matter. Nothing will change. I don’t know anything about the candidates. I don’t know what district I’m in. It’s inconvenient. Blah, blah, blah.
If you’re even the slightest bit interested in what goes on outside your front door, then you need to participate in the process. The best and easiest way to do that is to vote on Tuesday.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This year is a big one for state and federal government. The entire state Legislature, the governor, the comptroller and the attorney general are all on the ballot, as are all seats in the House of Representatives and a smattering of county and local races.
Statewide, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing his first re-election bid, against Republican Rob Astorino, Libertarian Michael McDermott and Green Party standard-bearer Howie Hawkins. While Cuomo holds large leads in the polls, he didn’t fare well in the Democratic primary against an unknown challenger. As they say, this is why they play the game.
The entire state Legislature is also up for grabs, with competitive races for Assembly and Senate in our region. While the Assembly is locked up for the Democrats, this vote could tip the balance of power in the state Senate.
If Democrats gain control and Cuomo wins re-election, Democrats will rule the executive and legislative branches. That’s a significant reason to participate in the vote.
One race, for state Senate in the 46th District, is a rematch between George Amedore and Cecilia Tkaczyk. The last time these two went at it two years ago, Tkaczyk won by a mere 18 votes. Think your vote doesn’t count? Think again.
A number of key issues are affected by the state races, including whether the state allows hydrofracking in central New York, fixing the government’s ethics issues, the future of the Common Core educational standards in New York, campaign finance reform, the economy, the unresolved Women’s Equality Act, a possible reworking of the state’s SAFE Act gun control legislation, and myriad other issues. You have plenty of reasons to vote on Tuesday, if you only just vote in the state races.
Attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement post, and comptroller, the state’s fiscal administrator, are also on the ballot, with incumbents facing challengers.
In addition, there are three statewide propositions on the ballot that will determine how legislative and congressional district lines are drawn, whether the state can bond up to $2 billion for school technology, and whether lawmakers should be allowed to receive copies of legislation electronically. We made recommendations for those proposals on Saturday’s Opinion page.
You can learn a lot about the races and the candidate from a number of sources. You can start with this newspaper, which has covered the campaigns throughout the season, hosted candidate forums, and published profiles of the races. Go to back issues or visit our website and search for the races you’re interested in.
Perhaps the most important development on the national level will be whether the U.S. Senate remains in Democratic control or goes over to Republicans. Unfortunately, New Yorkers will be sitting this one out. That’s because neither of our U.S. senators, Kirsten Gillibrand or Charles Schumer, are up for re-election this year. But who represents us in the lower house of Congress is important, and there are plenty of heated races locally between candidates who are offering divergent views on how the nation should move forward.
Locally, the state created some new Family Court judges this year, and the new candidates will be vying to fill those seats. There are also other local races that might appear on your ballot, although this is considered an off-year for local elections.
voting. Even if you have a long commute, work long hours and allocate time for dinner, family and TV, you can still probably squeeze it in.
It’s very likely that you’ll pass a polling place on your way.
If you don’t know where you’re supposed to vote or what races affect you, you’re in luck. If you threw out the little card the Board of Elections sent you, you can still find out easily and quickly online.
Visit the state Board of Election’s Voter Lookup page at voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us.
When the little chart pops up, type in your name, date of birth, county and ZIP Code. Up will come all the information you need to prepare to vote on Tuesday.
That includes the location and MapQuest directions for your polling place, as well as your election district, state Senate district, state Assembly district, congressional district and city/town ward.
There are also many other sources online for voting information and voter guides, including your county website, chambers of commerce, local League of Women Voters sites, and of course, this newspaper.
Elections are important. And your vote does make a difference.
You can chose to sit on your couch and let others make the choices for you. Or you can make your voice heard by participating.
Voting is easy and convenient, and there’s plenty of information out there on the races and issues, even if you’ve only started paying attention today.
So what are you going to do?