The nation has been consumed with tomorrow’s election for a very long time. But, with all that’s been happening over the past week, those of us in NY and NJ have put that on the back burner while we deal with much more pressing concerns. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, most of the area’s leaders refused to even discuss election concerns while still facing full swaths of the Northeast without food, power, heat, or even homes. As we’ve gotten closer, however, the mechanics of holding elections in NY and NJ have become a major concern.
Now, the (very important) election is tomorrow and the moment has come for us all to take a moment away from trying to stabilize our lives and our city to figure out how we’re going to make our votes count.
First, there are the process issues:
The Board of Elections is warning that they’ve had to relocate some polling places. So before you head out, check here to make sure you know where you’re voting and to look at a sample ballot. You can also call the non-partisan Election Protection coalition at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). Also make sure to pass the info along to friends in other areas, especially areas like Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Staten Island, where Sandy hit the hardest. Even (and especially) while they struggle to stay warm and obtain basic necessities, the people of those areas deserve for their votes to be heard. For example, there’s a hotly contested House race in Staten Island, the results of which will have an impact on the area for at least the next two years.
While absentee ballots must still be postmarked by today (November 5), the Board of Elections has extended the deadline by which they are received and counted. Instead of 7 days after the elections, they will be valid if received and counted up until 13 days after the election. Again, though, absentee ballots must be postmarked by today. The deadline for absentee applications was this past Friday, November 2. So if you don’t have an absentee ballot already, you need to show up at a polling site to vote.
In addition to getting the word out about these changes, Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who represents some residents of our neighborhood, has been calling on Twitter for additional measures to make sure voters are not disenfranchised because of the storm.
“I am asking that the Board of Elections immediately institute a plan to establish a volunteer shuttle service to ferry New Yorkers from evacuation centers and hard-hit areas of the city to their poll sites,” he said in a statement. “I am also proposing that the Board open polling locations at evacuation centers to address this unique situation.”
Once people figure out how and where to vote, there’s the issue of who’s actually on the ballot (please note that local races may vary slightly, so make sure to check your personal sample ballot). Google has a great tool here that allows you to see your ballot. You can also continue reading — we have a comprehensive summary below.
President/Vice President (national)
Hopefully, you know the main players here. You may even be among that ever-shrinking group of “undecideds.” If that’s the case, you do have a few third-party choices as well. As a reminder, existing third parties that receive at least 5% of the vote in this election will be eligible for federal funding in the next general election.
Barack Obama/Joe Biden (Democratic/Working Families)
Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan (Republican/Conservative)
Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala (Green)
Peta Lindsay/Yari Osorio (Party for Socialism & Liberation)
Gary Johnson/James P. Gray (Libertarian)
Virgil Goode/Jim Clymer (Constitution)
This is another one you’re probably aware of. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed by then-Governor Patterson to replace Hillary Clinton when she became Secretary of State, is running for re-election against Republican Wendy Long, who won the Republican primary in June.
It’s generally assumed in our district that the House race is over after the Democratic primary, which incumbent Yvette Clarke won in June. However, she does have two opponents from the Republican and Green parties. Remember that there’s been a big redistricting after the 2010 Census, so take a look at your sample ballot to verify that you’re in Clarke’s new 9th District.
Yvette Clarke (Democratic/Working Families)
Daniel Cavanagh (Republican/Conservative) – there isn’t much out there about Cavanagh (as you can see from his website), but SheepsheadBites did a Congressional Primer earlier this year after sending surveys out to candidates. According to them:
Cavanagh, carrying the Republican and Conservative lines, has served as a special assistant to New York State Senator Marty Golden since 2002. He has been involved in the local community from the age of 13, with the Gerritsen Beach Teen Organization.
Vivia Morgan (Green)
State Senate (local)
This race didn’t shape up to be as fun as we originally thought. Ah well.
Further to the south, the new District 17 race has been contentious.
Member of Assembly (local)
James Brennan (Democratic/Working Families)
Catherine Fox (Republican/Conservative)
Supreme Court/Civil Court Judges (county)
And finally, the races that are never talked about but should be talked about. Considering these are the folks in whose hands we may someday find our freedom, our fortune, or perhaps even our lives, it’s remarkable how little we pay attention to judicial elections. There’s a Voter Guide over at nyccourts.gov and, if it’s any help, the NYC Bar has approved or not approved the candidates:
Candidates rated Approved have affirmatively demonstrated qualifications necessary for the performance of the duties of the court for which they are being considered.
Conveniently, the number approved (*’d below) in each category lines up with the number the ballot asks you to pick. If anyone has any further information or leads on further information on any of the candidates, please let us know.
Justices of the Supreme Court (vote for any three)
*Cheryl E. Chambers (Democratic/Republican/Conservative)
*Barry M. Kamins (Democratic/Republican/Conservative)
*William Miller (Democratic/Republican/Conservative)
Arshad Majid (Working Families)
William A. Gerard (Working Families)
Judge of the Civil Court – County (vote for any two)
*Craig S. Walker (Democratic)
*Robin S. Garson (Democratic)
Vincent F. Martusciello (Republican/Conservative)
Ross Brady (Republican/Conservative)
Today and tomorrow, as you get back to work, help out, or prepare for the next round, let those around you know that the election is on, they still should vote, and they need to pay a little closer attention than usual to the process.