Everything you need to know to be an informed voter.
Registering and Voting | Voter Publications| Voting Updates | Voter Services Report - October 2020 | How We Elect Our Representatives | Voter Services Report - July/August 2020 | Good GOTV News! | Voters With Disabilities | 2019 Voter Turnout Takeaways | Candidate Forum Policy | Links to Local Boards | City Council and Town Board Meetings | Schenectady County Legislature Meetings | State-Wide Politics and Financial Disclosures
You can use the DMV Electronic Voter Registration Application to register to vote or to update the information you have on file with the New York State Board of Elections.
By Mail or in Person:
Download a Voter Registration Form and mail it back to the Schenectady County Board of Elections. https://www.schenectadycounty.com/sites/default/files/2019%20Voter%20Registration%20Form%20-%20English.pdf
To request a Voter Registration Form be mailed to you email boe [at] SchenectadyCounty.com or call 518.377.2469.
To obtain a Voter Registration Form in person, visit the Schenectady County Board of Elections at 2696 Hamburg Street, Schenectady, New York 12303.
By Absentee Ballot:
Executive Order 202.15 allows voters who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic and wish to apply to vote by absentee ballot to utilize the absentee ballot forms and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability” with no requirement for in-person signature or appearance to be able to access an absentee ballot.You should request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. The ballot won’t be certified until September 9 so don’t expect to receive the absentee ballot before then.
October 27 is the last day to postmark an application for absentee ballot if you’re mailing the application.
Return the absentee ballot as soon as possible to make sure your vote is counted. Absentee ballots can be mailed or delivered to an election worker at the Board of Elections, 2696 Hamburg St., Schenectady, NY 12303 or to any polling site on Election Day or to any of the Early Voting sites during voting hours.
November 2 is the last day to postmark the actual absentee ballot.
The General Election early voting period will be from: Saturday, October 24, 2020 through Sunday November 1, 2020. In Schenectady County, the early voting poll sites are: https://www.schenectadycounty.com/earlyvoting
You can find out if you are registered to vote on the NYS Board of Elections:https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/
YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE IN NEW YOUR STATE:
College Students Brochure
Individuals with Disabilities Brochure
Homeless Individuals Brochure
Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities Brochure
Individuals with Criminal Convictions and Those Detained in Jail or Prison Brochure
Election Day Poll Site Locations: Although the Executive Order has not been officially released, a press release for the Governor's office states:
"The Governor issued an executive order requiring boards of elections develop a plan to allow a registered voter to drop off a completed absentee ballot at a board of elections, early voting location, or election day voting location, without requiring they wait in line with in-person voters, to help minimize delays during in-person voting and promote contactless voting
League Signs Joint Letter on Funding for 2020 Elections: The League signed onto a joint letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to make funds available for the State Board of Elections. The New York State Board of Elections estimated last month that at least $50 million will be needed in order for the state and local boards of election to adequately prepare for the eightfold increase in voter turnout anticipated in November.
Although Congress allocated $20 million emergency funding for New York State's elections, the State Board of Elections has spent nearly all of these funds on the June primary. The letter cited the importance of providing funds for PPE and sanitizing products, pre-paid postage for absentee ballots, and additional funds for voter outreach and education.
Absentee Ballot Disqualification Lawsuit Settlement (ICYMI)
The New York State League has successfully settled our lawsuit to allow voters to address and correct issues with their absentee ballots. New York voters will also now be protected from having their ballots thrown out for small technical issues. Under the League's settlement, voters will no longer have their ballot invalidated if they complete their ballot in non-black or blue ink, mark outside the designated areas, or seal the inner ballot envelope, also called an affirmation envelope, with tape or other sealing agent.
Voters will now also have the opportunity to correct issues with their affirmation signature and witness declaration including:
- if the affirmation envelope is unsigned;
- if the affirmation ballot envelope signature does not match the voter's registration signature;
- if the affirmation envelope does not have the required witness signature for voters who had assistance completing their ballot;
- if the ballot is returned without an affirmation envelope in the return envelope;
- if the affirmation envelope is signed by the person that has provided assistance to the voter but is not signed or marked by the voter him/herself; or
- if the voter has failed to sign the affirmation envelope and someone else has signed the affirmation.
For this election, voters will be given five to seven days (depending on the date of receipt of the ballot) to verify their identity and fix any problems with their ballot after being notified by the Board of Elections. The settlement specifies that the Board must contact voters by phone, email or mail. Voters can resolve any issues raised by the Board by returning a cure affirmation form and providing their name, date of birth, and voter registration address to affirm their identity.
These new changes are above and beyond the policy change that was passed by the legislature last month. With these additional protections, voters will not have to worry about their ballots being invalidated for small errors and will have the opportunity to ensure their ballot will not be rejected if there are issues with their signature.
The epidemic and all of the restrictions relating to the epidemic have made this a very challenging year for the League. Despite all of the problems including the unavailability of space and the reluctance of people to be exposed, a number of groups and institutions have asked us to do voter registration drives and many League members have been eager to volunteer.
It’s interesting to compare our results in 2020 with 2019: Completed voter registrations: 267 in 2019;74 in 2020
Handed out voter registrations (to be completed at home): 114 in 2019;78 in 2020
It’s important to note that 200 of the completed voter registrations in 2019 came from naturalization ceremonies. We attended 7 naturalization ceremonies in 2019, but were only able to attend 2 ceremonies in 2020. Likewise, 48 of the voter registration forms handed out in 2020 occurred at naturalization ceremonies.
We also gave out 49 absentee ballot applications, of which 7 were completed on site in 2020 compared to a total of 3 applications handed out in 2019.
Voters were very interested in early voting and we gave out over 100 ﬂyers with locations, dates and times. We also dropped oﬀ voter registration forms, absentee ballot applications and early voting information to 518 Mamas for BLM, to the Niskayuna Co-op, to the YMCA residence and to Union College.
Thank you to all of the volunteers!
Do you know how we elect our Representatives? Why not test your skills.
The State Legislature has passed 2 important bills. The first one allows expanded absentee voting in the November elections. This should be similar to the Governor’s executive order which allowed absentee voting in the June primaries with the excuse of “temporary illness or disability”.
The second is Automatic Voter Registration which automatically registers people to vote when they interact with a large number of government agencies, including the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, Dept. of Health (Medicaid), CUNY and SUNY schools and the Office of Veterans Affairs. There are safeguards in the legislation to prevent ineligible people from registering to vote, such as non- citizens and an opt-out provision. This bill would not take effect until 2023.
The Governor has not yet signed these bills but he is expected to do so.
Voter Services Chair
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
2019 Voter Turnout Takeaways
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.
New York State Board of Elections 40 North Pearl St. Suite 5 Albany, NY 12207-2729 518-474-6220 Email: INFO [at] elections.ny.gov
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.