Tags Posts tagged with "Election Day 2020"

Election Day 2020

Amongst record-breaking turnout for the 2020 election, there is still one lingering issue that Suffolk County needs to correct for the many elections in our future, namely the dearth of early voting locations in the county.

In the midst of a pandemic, providing an opportunity for locals to vote earlier than Election Day made more sense than ever before. It was about keeping the number of people to a minimum to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Accommodating those who didn’t want to vote amongst crowds because they felt they would be at a higher risk to catch the coronavirus should have been at the utmost of priorities.

In Suffolk, past years have seen one early voting site per town, and this year the number of locations was increased to 12. Critics had lobbied for more than a dozen sites in the county, preferably 21, but the calls were met with compromise.

Well, the results are in and the critics were right. The slight bump in polling places wasn’t enough. People found themselves in line at early polling locations for hours. Lines at locations like Brookhaven Town Hall or Nesconset Elementary School snaked through parking lots and twisted around residential streets. As ridiculous as it sounds, people had to bring chairs with them to vote.

According to New York State law, the boards of elections should consider various factors when choosing a site including population density, travel time, proximity to other sites and how close it is to public transportation routes.

In Brookhaven, voters could find locations in Farmingville and Mastic but nothing on the North Shore. Smithtown residents had one location in Nesconset and many, once they discovered they would have to wait hours in line, traveled to Brentwood to vote early. In the TBR News Media coverage area from Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River along the North Shore of the Island — which can vary between 40 to 50 miles depending on what route a person takes — that Nesconset location was the only early voting polling place.

Of course, we realize one of the problems may be a lack of poll workers and volunteers. Hearing the concerns of many residents who are now shouting voter fraud and the like it’s ironic how more people aren’t willing to participate in one of the most important processes in America. Our suggestion to the Suffolk County Board of Elections: Make more of an effort in getting the word out that people are needed to help voters.

The long lines of people to cast an early vote proved that Suffolk residents wanted their voices to be heard. Those lines proved that the county and country need to rethink the early voting process.

Suffolk County needs to work out a funding stream that is dedicated to early polling places come Election Day, and the nation needs to have a serious conversation about standardized processes for mail-in ballots or early voting. At the same time, why not make Election Day a national holiday?

While the hope is that future election procedures won’t need to adhere to pandemic guidelines, offering a more flexible schedule enables people more than 15 hours on Election Day to have their say, no matter what their workday schedule or other responsibilities entail.

To have one day to vote may have worked in the early days of our country, but with the U.S. population increasing massively over the centuries, and people of color as well as women gaining the right to vote along the way, it’s time to expand to make sure every adult in America can vote no matter what their circumstances may be.

Stock photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Finally, we are in the home stretch, with Election Day soon upon us. Of course this has been no ordinary election experience for Americans. In addition to the usual barrage of electioneering from local and national candidates, we are forced to work around COVID-19 in deciding how to vote.

Some residents, in record numbers, have chosen to mail in their ballots, some have decided to vote early in-person, a novel situation forced into existence by the virus to spread out the voting population and avoid crowds. And some will just show up at their normal polling places at their usual time and do what they always do to cast their ballots.

Whatever you may think of our president, Donald Trump has certainly supercharged the electorate. Voters are out in record numbers, whether to vote for or against him. Joe Biden has not pulled any punches. His main goal in running is to keep President Trump from a second term. And that also seems to be the goal of the voters: either for the man or against him.

I have to confess that I would feel a little envious when I would see pictures of residents, in countries newly emerging from dictatorships, who lined up for hours and miles to cast their votes in their first exercise of democracy. Many in the United States were generally uninspired to vote, often letting the minority who came to the polls decide who would govern us. We were often apathetic about voting and about politics in general. But not this year. So that’s a good thing.

A not so good thing is that we stand in red vs. blue partisan formation, aggressively shouting our views and often disparaging the other side’s beliefs. Dialogue is one matter, screaming matches are something else, something totally unproductive and ultimately injurious to those others with whom we are otherwise proudly united into one country.

In an attempt to simplify the positions of the local candidates, we are dedicating much of this issue to their views. We as journalists are in the unique and privileged position of having access to them. We invite them, individually for each race with their opponent(s), to a Zoom meeting to answer questions put to them by our editorial board. This typically takes about an hour and a half. We then write up their answers as informational articles, passing on what we have learned. Those stories can be found in a separate section elsewhere in this paper.

In our usual end pages for opinion, we offer our endorsements of the candidates. These can be found on the page opposite this column and are based on the interviews and whatever else we might know about them after following them as we covered the news. Of course, these are only our opinions, and we urge you to learn about the candidates and make your own decisions as to whom you will give your vote. We merely share our impressions with you, feeling it our duty since we have personally interviewed them.

The following is a list of local races for which we have held interviews with the candidates:

1st Congressional District

Nancy S. Goroff (D) & Lee M. Zeldin (R)

3rd Congressional District

Thomas R. Suozzi (D) & George A.D. Santos (R)

State Senator 1st Senatorial District

Laura A. Ahearn (D) & Anthony H. Palumbo (R)

State Senator 2nd Senatorial District

Mike Siderakis (D) & Mario R. Mattera (R)

State Senator 5th Senatorial District

James F. Gaughran (D) & Edmund J. Smyth (R)

2nd Assembly District

Laura Jens-Smith (D) & Jodi Giglio (R)

4th Assembly District

Steven Englebright (D) & Michael S. Ross (R)

8th Assembly District

Dylan G. Rice (D) & Michael J. Fitzpatrick (R)

10th Assembly District

Steve Stern (D) & Jamie R. Silvestri (R)

12th Assembly District

Keith Brown (R) & Michael Marcantonio (D)

We hope we have helped. Whatever you decide, please vote.