By Carol Tannenhauser
After a particularly intense primary season, you may be out of steam for the General Election, coming in a month on November 2nd, but summon up a second wind. There are still nine candidates for mayor, including one whose wife is running against Gale Brewer for the UWS City Council seat, not to mention all the other citywide races. And there are five proposed amendments to the state constitution to approve or deny. The past few years have taught us nothing if not the importance of careful, informed voting. This article is meant to help make sure you’re ready for the “generals.”
Courtesy of the Board of Elections.
First and foremost, can you even vote? Are you registered? Once you register to vote, you are registered permanently, unless you commit a felony, move out of the city or county, have not voted in any election, or are judged incompetent by a court. The deadline to register to vote in the General Election is October 8th. Mail-in registration applications must be postmarked by that date, which is also the last day to register in person. Here is a link to check your registration status and to register online. If you have moved, a change of address form for the General Election must be received by October 13th.
How will you vote? By mail or in person? If you’re planning to vote by mail, the deadline to request an absentee ballot online or by mail is October 18th. You can request an absentee ballot here. When applying for an absentee ballot, you may select “Temporary illness or disability” as your reason, which includes the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
When will you vote? Early or on Election Day? Every NYC voter can vote early, in person. Word is the lines are often shorter. Early voting this year will take place between October 23rd and October 31st. Your early voting site may be different from your Election Day poll site, so make sure to check before you go. Click here to find your early voting poll site.
November 2nd is the date of the General Election. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by that date. November 9th is the deadline for the Board of Elections to receive absentee ballots. To find your Election Day poll site and see a sample ballot, based on your address, click here.
Brewer vs. Sliwa
A 2018 City and State profile of Gale Brewer was headlined “Everybody Loves Gale”. That proved true enough for Manhattan Borough President Brewer to win the 2021 Democratic primary for the District 6 City Council seat on the first round of “ranked-choice voting,” with 53% of the vote. If she wins the general, it will begin her second tenure as the UWS’s City Councilperson. She held the seat from 2002 to 2013. For WSR’s full profile of Brewer and her platform click here.
This brings up an important point: The General Election will not use Ranked-Choice Voting. Back to one choice per voter.
Nancy Sliwa is running against Brewer for District 6 City Councilperson on the Republican line. It’s not her first foray into politics. In 2018, she ran for New York State attorney general on an “all animal-rights platform,” according to the New York Post. That was the same year she married Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate for mayor in the 2021 General Election. Nancy Sliwa is the director of animal protection for the Guardian Angels, the neighborhood protection group her husband founded. Her top campaign issues are Animal Welfare, Homeless and Emotionally Disturbed People (EDPs), and Subway Safety, according to Patch.
The Ballot Proposals
Proposal 1: Amending the Apportionment and Redistricting Process — the four amendments that follow are self explanatory, but this first one could keep you up nights! Fortunately, Gotham Gazette has a relatively accessible explanation of all five potential amendments, which we quote here and below.
“The first proposal on the ballot is an omnibus amendment containing numerous technical changes to the state’s redistricting process, which takes place once a decade and is unfolding now after the 2020 Census count. Some of its key components, if approved, include permanently freezing the number of New York State Senate districts at 63; counting incarcerated individuals in their last place of residence rather than where they are incarcerated for purposes of district populations; and requiring the state to count all residents in district populations regardless of their citizenship status. The amendment also includes changes to the approval process of legislative district lines for the House of Representatives, State Senate and State Assembly.” Click on the Gotham Gazette link for a more detailed explanation.
Proposal 2: Right to Clean Air and Water — “This proposal would add to the state’s Bill of Rights an explicit ‘right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.’ The amendment would give New Yorkers additional recourse to challenge and seek restitution in the court system for polluted air and water. It may also impact the way regulators like the state Department of Environmental Conservation and city Department of Environmental Protection view their responsibilities and the regulations they promulgate. The amendment is a longtime goal of environmental advocates and environmental justice activists….”
Proposal 3: Same-Day Voter Registration — “This amendment would eliminate the requirement that voters register to vote no later than ten days before an election or the close of polls. By doing so, there will be no constitutional block to registering to vote on the same day as voting and would open the door to state laws that could allow that. Voting rights advocates have been seeking this reform for years, arguing it would expand access to the ballot box and increase voter engagement in what they have called an antiquated system.”
Proposal 4: No-Excuse Absentee Voting — “Another voting reform on the ballot would drop the constitutional requirement that absentee voters provide an “excuse” or explanation for why they cannot vote in-person. The state constitution currently allows voters to mail in ballots if they expect to be away on election day or if they have an illness or disability that would prevent them from going to a poll site.”
Proposal 5: Expanding the New York City Civil Court Jurisdiction — “The fifth proposal on the statewide ballot would only impact the five boroughs of New York City but must go before all voters because it deals with a stipulation in the state constitution. The amendment would increase the scope of claims the New York City Civil Court can hear and make decisions on from the current maximum of $25,000 to $50,000. Claims greater than $25,000 now go before the state Supreme Court.”
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Appreciate this overview. Hope the lack of comments here doesn’t reflect a general lack of engagement with the democratic process. This is our voice! Our best channel for self-determined governance! Democracy is messy, fragile, and precious (see: Jan 6). The best way for YOU to help safeguard it is to be an engaged citizen and voter. Yes, especially at the local and “mundane” level, not just in the more “famous” federal elections.
Lets hope Curtis Sliwa is voted in this year. Adams changed his positions this year to make himself stand out from the rest of the Democrats. NYC needs some fresh thinking instead of the same stale ideas from the NYC establishment.
If you don’t vote you can’t complain
Thanks for publishing this.