Editorial

Get out and vote this election season

Posted

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, but thanks to a new law, New Yorkers will get a running start on the process for the first time in the state’s history.

In January, the State Legislature passed a series of voting reforms intended to make voting easier for people who struggle to get to the polls on Election Day. Included in the package was a measure to establish an early-voting system, which permits eligible voters to vote in person during a designated period. The law requires counties to allow New Yorkers to vote up to 10 days before an election, and mandates a minimum number of polling sites and voting hours per county based on the number of registered voters.

Starting Oct. 26, Nassau County residents will be able to vote at one of 15 designated sites. Many are existing polling places, and were chosen based on criteria such as handicapped accessibility, parking accommodations and proximity to public transportation.

Any registered voter in Nassau County may vote at any of the designated locations from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3. The schedule allots 69 hours for early voting, including evenings and weekends, and will enable voters to vote where they live, work, play or shop.

In addition to having more options for where to vote, voters can also expect more options for how they would like to vote. To implement the early-voting system, the State Assembly allocated $27 million for electronic poll books and scanning devices to print ballots for people who live in different election districts.

Early voting could be the answer to low voter turnout. According to a May 2018 report by the New York State Senate Democratic Policy Group, the state ranks 41st in the nation in voter turnout — only 57 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. The report included a survey in which 79 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote if early voting was enacted.

A panel discussion on early voting will be held at Hofstra University’s Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center Theater on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. There, attendees will learn about the early-voting process and other state election reforms from a panel of experts.

This year, Nassau County residents will see a mix of races — for town supervisor, Nassau County district attorney, the County Legislature and, in Glen Cove and Long Beach, City Council. The candidates are local people who represent us at the highest levels of local government. They may be your neighbors, attend the same house of worship as you or send their children to the same schools as yours.

Whom we put in office matters, because the essential job of an elected leader is to advocate for constituents’ interests. To arrive at informed opinions, voters must get to know the candidates. We encourage readers to become as informed about races for the Town Board and the County Legislature as they are about presidential candidates.

In the coming weeks, the Herald will introduce you to local candidates. You’ll have a chance to read about their positions on a range of issues, and what their priorities will be if they are elected. The Herald does not deviate from our objective coverage in the news section. We provide biographical information on the candidates and ask them each a series of questions on major issues. Each candidate is given equal space — up to 250 words per answer. Candidates provide their answers in written form. We do not alter them, except to clean up grammar and spelling.

We will also publish endorsements in all local races. This is unusual for a local weekly newspaper. Often, community papers are reluctant to write endorsements, fearing that they might anger powerful elected leaders. We believe, however, that it is our duty to publish endorsements to aid our readers in choosing their preferred candidates.

Every candidate sits down with at least three or four of our editors and reporters — at times more — who interview him or her. We also conduct a background check on the candidate, examining his or her record dating back years. Then, by consensus, we decide whom to endorse.

You shouldn’t stop with the Herald’s coverage, though. Check out candidates’ campaign websites, and their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

And, of course, don’t forget to vote.