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Know your voting rights, options before election day

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

Penn Yan

Voting is an important part of being a U.S. citizen. The people who are elected this year will make decisions about things that directly affect your life, your taxes, the education of your children and/or grandchildren, and changes in the laws of our state and nation. Voting is your chance to choose the decision-makers and tell them what you want.

In less than a week on Sept. 15, eligible voters in villages will go to the polls and select trustees, mayors, magistrates, or other village officials. In 46 days, on Oct. 24, the General Election will commence with nine days of Early Voting at the County Office Building, 417 Liberty Street, Penn Yan. Election Day will be Nov. 3, at which time there will be the customary poll sites open in each town. Please, if you decide to vote in person, wear a mask and observe social distancing. 

This year, according to Election Commissioners Brechko and Schwarting; “Because of the Coronavirus, we’re taking additional measures to protect the public and the poll inspectors who staff the eleven poll sites. A special notice to all registered voters in the county has just been mailed. It outlines the several ways that a voter can vote, allowing them to pick the alternative that best suits their needs.”

For this year, because of the Coronavirus, the New York State Legislature has expanded the definition of Temporarily Illness as a legitimate reason to apply for an absentee ballot. The notice to voters being sent by the County Board of Elections describes the five ways that a voter can apply for an absentee ballot, and for convenience provides an application and a return addressed envelope.

Once enrolled as an absentee voter, a ballot will be mailed to the voter, commencing the week of Sept. 21. When the ballot is received, it must be marked, sealed in the oath envelope provided, and the oath envelope signed. Then the sealed ballot envelope is either mailed to the board with a postmark no later than the day of the election, delivered to an open poll site by 9 p.m. or deposited in the ballot drop box outside the County Officer Building by 9 p.m. After Sept. 21, the voter may also come into the Board of Elections office to apply for a ballot, receive the ballot, and vote there or take it home. This is a good option if time is an issue. This can be done up until 5 p.m. Nov. 2.

To be eligible to vote in N.Y. State, one must:

• Be a United States citizen

• Be 18 years old (one may pre-register at 16 or 17 but cannot vote until the age of 18)

• Live at one’s present address at least 30 days before an election

• Not be in jail or prison for a felony conviction; or if on parole for a felony conviction received a pardon

• Not claim the right to vote elsewhere

• Have registered to vote.

The Election Inspectors at the poll sites and the staff of the Board of Elections are able to assist every person who wants to vote. You may call 315-536-5135 with any questions. 

As a last resort, any person who believes they are entitled to vote and are denied at the polls is able to seek a court order from a judge to become eligible to vote on the machine and cast their vote on Election Day. It is better however to take steps now and not wait. One can check their registration information by visiting the New York State Board of Elections site: https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/.