Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE

The Power of the League

“For almost 100 years, the League has sought to enlarge the franchise — and protect it. Last week, we did it again.”

Fran Furtado, a member of the Port Washington/Manhasset League read in Newsday that the Suffolk County Board of Elections in Yaphank decided to end walk-in absentee ballots, because so many voters were requesting ballots in person that the Board couldn’t keep up. Fran sent a copy of the article to Nancy Rosenthal, President of the LWV of Nassau County Inter-League Organization, who contacted Judie Gorenstein, a member of the Huntington League, and the NYS League’s Voter Services Vice President.

Judie called both Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioners. Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director of the LWVNYS, then contacted the NYS Board of Elections and the NY Civil Liberties Union.

After researching the relevant statutes, Laura and Judie determined that current statutes neither prevent nor require walk-in absentee ballots. Most Boards of Elections in NYS accept them, but Suffolk County apparently did have the authority to treat it as a courtesy that can be offered or withdrawn.

Apparently, the Suffolk BOE Commissioners were not expecting much attention to their decision. However, the League, the NYCLU, the State Board of Elections, the Suffolk County Executive, and many constituents voiced their concern and displeasure. As a result, the next day a Newsday article reported that the old policy was reinstated, four temps were being hired, and the BOE hours of operation were being extended to handle the increased absentee ballot volume. Just another example of how there is strength in numbers, and that we must always stand up for the right of citizens to cast their votes.

In September, New York State’s Primary turnout was triple what it was in 2014.  In fact, the League board heard complaints that some people were unable to vote because their polling precincts ran out of ballots. League contacted both the Nassau County and Suffolk County Boards of Elections about this, and were assured that all polling places will be well-stocked. By the time you are reading this article, we’ll know whether that proved to be correct. (Source: Dr. Judith Esterquest , LWV Port Washington/Manhasset bulletin)

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