There have been quite a few scheduling changes for political elections throughout the United States as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state has been particularly hard-hit, resulting in drastic changes as to when and how New Yorkers will cast their votes. In this special edition of my blog "Voting Made Easier,” my purpose is to provide the latest updates regarding changes in the state's political calendar. Unfortunately, the state and county Board of Elections websites recommended in my first blog post still contain outdated and conflicting information. What I have posted below may differ from what is seen online, but its accuracy has been verified using authoritative sources. Here is a quick status summary of upcoming elections in our area:
Presidential Primary 2020 (Democratic): POSTPONED. This election was originally scheduled for April 28th. On March 28th, the Governor issued an executive order moving the election to June 23rd, combining it with the other primaries already scheduled on that date.
This election has been shrouded in controversy. On April 27th, The Democratic chairs of the New York State Board of Elections announced a decision to simply cancel it altogether. With the pandemic in full swing, and state and local governments facing a cash-flow crisis, this move would undoubtedly save the various election boards (and taxpayers) millions of dollars in operating costs. Besides financial woes and public health risks, this election was deemed unnecessary for the most obvious reason: the lack of candidates. With Joe Biden running unopposed (after Bernie Sanders withdrew from the Democratic race on April 8th), the decision seemed like a no-brainer. Well, there were those who vehemently disagreed, particularly Sanders supporters (who argued that he should be allowed to remain on the ballot for the purpose of allocating delegates to represent New York at the upcoming Democratic National Convention). There's also former Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of voters, challenging the fairness of the move. Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Analisa Torres heard their protests and agreed, ordering that the election be reinstated.
It should be noted that the election board's Republican commissioners cancelled their party's presidential primary in March, after determining that Donald Trump was the only qualifying candidate.
Special Election (12th Assembly District): POSTPONED. Well, kind of. This election (originally scheduled for April 28th) would have decided who would fill the state assembly seat vacated by Andrew Raia (who was elected in November 2019 as Huntington Town Clerk and took office in January 2020). On March 28th, Governor Cuomo ordered that this and all other special elections be postponed until June 23rd. However, with only two candidates on the ballot, Michael Marcantonio (D) and Keith Brown (R) (each running unopposed in their respective parties), a special election was deemed unnecessary, and it was cancelled. Instead, this race has been rescheduled as part of the General Election on November 3rd.
Federal/State/Local Primaries 2020: PROCEEDING AS SCHEDULED. Three weeks ago, the official word went out to election workers: polling places will be open. Candidates will be vying for positions in the U.S. Congress, as well as various state and local offices. FOR THESE ELECTIONS ONLY, the Board of Elections is modifying operating procedures and making special provisions for voters who are unable or reluctant to visit polling places during the ongoing pandemic. In addition to in-person voting on June 23rd and nine days of early voting (June 13th - June 21st), ALL eligible voters will be invited to vote-by-mail using absentee ballots. If you are a registered voter, a ballot application will be mailed to you.
Presidential/General Elections 2020: PROCEEDING AS SCHEDULED. No changes have been announced as of this date. Unless circumstances warrant, these elections WILL take place on November 3rd, along with nine days of early voting (Oct. 24th - Nov. 1st), in accordance with standard operating procedures and previously established deadlines.
Did you know that polling inspectors are needed for upcoming elections? These are part-time, per diem positions that provide extra income and offer an opportunity for civic service within your community. With the implementation of early voting last year, there is an increased need to fill extra hours at polling places. Election workers earn $12.50 per hour. On election day, a typical shift is 16.5 hours (5:00 A.M. to 9:30 P.M.). To apply, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and a registered voter. English language fluency is necessary (multi-lingual ability is appreciated). For those who qualify, paid training (a three-hour seminar) is provided for certification as a polling inspector. Suffolk County Board of Elections is always recruiting - to apply, call 631-854-4525 or 631-854-4527, open weekdays 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
Hal Mintz - Reference Librarian, Adult Services / Polling Inspector (D-Huntington), Suffolk County Board of Elections