By Erica West, Secretary of the League of Women Voters of Huntington, NY
Last month we reminded readers that voters in Suffolk County will be electing our County Executive and County Legislators, Town Officials, and Family Court and District Court Judges. Election Day is on Tuesday, November 5th. Polls will be open from 6 am to 9 pm.
This year is what is sometimes called an off-year election. It’s not the presidential election, which takes place every four years, and it’s not the midterms, when we elect state and federal representatives, which take place every two years. It’s all local elections, town and county, and often the voter turnout is far below the years when the other contests take place. Some may think that these local elections are not important, when in fact they are the elections that affect our everyday lives. We may not see our local races on the news very often, and some might feel that they don’t know enough to decide who to vote for, or that they can’t find reliable information on the candidates. We’d like to help with that.
Meet the Candidates
The League of Women Voters of Huntington is co-sponsoring three Meet the Candidates Night debates. Other Leagues in Suffolk are also sponsoring events for elected offices that represent their towns. Details are at the end of this article. These non-partisan events are a chance for you to meet the candidates who want to represent you, and to hear the candidates discuss issues that affect you and your community.
Vote411.org Voter Guide
You can also find the election information you need on Vote411.org, the League of Women Voters online voter guide. You can go to Vote411.org, enter your address and get a personalized ballot and information on polling places and voter registration.
We also let readers know last month that early voting, which is new this year for New York voters, will begin in Suffolk County on Saturday, October 26 and continue every day until Sunday, November 3rd. Times and places are listed on the Suffolk County Board of Elections website: You may have visited the Board of Elections website some time ago and seen that the Board of Elections was instructing voters that they had to use the polling location in their town for early voting. That recently changed, and now Suffolk voters can use any of the listed polling places to take advantage of early voting.
When we’ve been out and about in our community for voter registration events, we’ve had a lot of conversations about early voting, and why one would want to vote early instead of going to the poll on Election Day. For those who work during the week, take note that early voting is available during both weekends prior to Election Day. Folks might also keep an eye on the weather – a storm on Election Day might discourage you from venturing out, so think about voting early to make sure you don’t miss your chance to participate in this year’s election.
New Voting Reforms Coming in 2020
This year also saw other voting reforms passed by the New York State legislature and signed by the Governor. Here are just two:
Party Enrollment Deadline Change: Before this new law, voters in New York wanted to change their party enrollment had to do so 25 days before the general election before the primary in which they wanted to vote. Beginning in 2020, they’ll have until February 14 (Valentine’s Day!) of the year in which the primary will be held.
Preregistration to Vote for 16- and 17-year olds:
This new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. The voter registration form will be modified to include space where there is an explanation of preregistration and allow for the form to be pending. The registration will automatically take effect when the person becomes 18-year old. It also requires local boards of education to adopt policies to promote student voter registration and pre-registration. Citizens must still be 18-years old on or before Election Day to be eligible to vote.
While we’re happy about all the voting reforms enacted recently, we’re particularly pleased about this one because the League is very active in voting education of and outreach to the youth in our community.
There’s always more to say about voting rights and the importance of voting. For now we hope we’ve inspired you to get out and vote in this year’s General Election and that you will also reach out to your friends and neighbors and encourage them to vote as well.
Meet the Candidates Night Debates in Suffolk County
(for additional info, go to https://my.lwv.org/new-york/suffolk-county/upcoming-events )
Monday, October 14th at 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Legislative District 6 candidate debate
Sound Beach Firehouse
152 Sound Beach Blvd
Sound Beach, NY
Co-Sponsored by the Sound Beach Civic Association
Wednesday, October 16 7:00 pm
East Hampton Town Supervisor and East Hampton Town Council (2) candidate debate
East Hampton Library
159 Main St.
East Hampton, NY
Wednesday, October 16 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Legislative Districts 13, 16, 17 and 18 candidate debate.
Five Towns College Performing Arts Center
305 North Service Road (entrance on Burrs Lane)
Dix Hills, NY
( just off exit 50 of the Long Island Expressway)
Co-sponsored by Five Towns College
Thursday, October 17 7:00 pm
Southampton Town Supervisor and Southampton Councilman (2) candidate debate
91 Coopers Farm Rd
Thursday, October 17 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Legislative District 13 candidate debate
Nesaquake Middle School
479 Edgewood Ave
St James, NY
LWV Smithtown and LWV Huntington, co-sponsors
Monday, October 21 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Executive candidate debate
Kings Park High School
Kings Park, NY
Tuesday, October 22 7:00 pm
Huntington Town Council, Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes candidate debate
Harborfields Public Library
Co-sponsored by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.
All candidates who will be on the ballot have been invited to participate.
About the League of Women Voters of Huntington
The League of Women Voters of Huntington is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of public policy issues, and influences policy through education and advocacy. Membership is open to women and men 16 years and older. If you are looking for a rewarding opportunity to give back to your community, please consider supporting or joining our League! You can contact us at 631-421-5164, or email LWVHuntingtonNY@gmail.com
The new laws described above, making voting easier for New Yorkers, were made possible by the focused efforts of grass roots groups like the League of Women Voters. We are working hard to help you make sure your voice is heard!