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A 2020 election survival guide


The coronavirus crisis has forced us all to rethink how we carry out many of our responsibilities, including here at the Herald. Each election season, we normally invite political candidates to our Garden City office for an hour-long meeting to hear their ideas and views before deciding whom we will endorse. This year, however, we are conducting our interviews by — what else? — Zoom. That’s life — and politics — in the time of a pandemic.

Rest assured, though, that we will conduct endorsement interviews with candidates for Congress, State Senate and State Assembly in the coming days and weeks. We will not allow the pandemic to interfere with one of a newspaper’s solemn responsibilities — offering our take on which candidates we believe are best prepared to represent the people. We base our decisions on extensive research and interviews, including an extended interview with representatives of our Editorial Board.

The process of interviewing candidates takes weeks. At times an endorsement call is an easy one, while at others we agonize over the decision. We take the process very seriously, considering each candidate’s personal and professional background, commitment to doing good for people and positions on key issues when deciding whom to endorse. Political experience is a plus, but not a requirement to earn our endorsement.

Endorsement decisions are made by a minimum of three to four Editorial Board representatives, and often considerably more than that. A decision does not require unanimous consent, but rather a simple majority. When there is a dissenting opinion, we often note it in our endorsement.

In the past, we have endorsed both Democrats and Republicans. Our enthusiasm for a candidate is based not on our individual political views, but rather on what we collectively believe to be his or her potential to effect positive change while in office. 

Our endorsements will appear in our Oct. 22 issue.

In the meantime, you will find our coverage of the races in the main section of the paper over the coming weeks. We might cover a news conference convened by a candidate on a salient issue or issues. We will publish Q&A’s with candidates, asking them to opine on subjects relevant to our readers. In a Q&A, candidates are asked to respond to each question in a maximum of 250 words. When they exceed that limit, we cut the response from the end down to 250 words.

This year, voting will be different. New York now allows early voting, which will begin Oct. 24 and continue through Nov. 1. Voters can cast their ballots at selected sites throughout the county during this period. For a list of early polling places and their hours, go to the Nassau County Board of Elections website, here.

Also, this year any voter can cast an absentee ballot because of the coronavirus pandemic. Absentee ballots can be requested by filing an electronic application on the county Board of Elections website. You can also call the Board of Elections, at (516) 571-8683, to ask for an application, fax a request to (516) 571-2058, or mail a request to Nassau County Board of Elections, 240 Old Country Road, Fifth Floor, P.O. Box 9002, Mineola, N.Y. 11501.

On your application, click or circle “temporary illness or physical disability” as your reason, and cite your concern for potentially contracting the coronavirus while voting.

Otherwise, you will be able to cast your ballot at your local polling place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

All elections are consequential, but with a hotly contested presidential race on the ballot, this year’s election is, no doubt, more so than most. The issues that have arisen in the last half-year alone — the Covid-19 crisis and systemic racism, to name just two — are vitally important, and whom we elect to address the issues will matter. If you want your voice to be heard, you need to cast a ballot. 

A democracy such as ours is not, as they say, a spectator sport. It requires participation. So, in the coming weeks, please pay close attention to the Herald’s coverage of the candidates and then, regardless of how you do so, perform that most American of civic duties and vote.