Register to vote; We’ll help

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So you’re sick and tired of government and you want to do something about it.

Hmmm. What is there to do in America that gives the citizens input into government decision-making?

Well, you could … vote. That’s something.

There’s a lot at stake in this year’s election. A lot.

The November ballot includes all elected state offices, including governor, attorney general, state comptroller, and the entire state Legislature.

On the national level, we’re electing every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a third of the U.S. Senate (including one of our own senators).

How this vote goes will determine which parties control the state and federal houses of government.

The state Senate is split nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats, so how you vote in state Senate races in particular could have a monumental impact on state legislation for the next two years. In both houses of Congress, the party division is close enough to threaten the Republican majorities in each house.

In addition, there may be a local ballot issue for you to vote on. There are no state ballot initiatives this year. But, for instance, there is a referendum in Saratoga Springs regarding amendments to the city charter that could include expanding the size of the City Council to include at-large members.

The problem is that a lot of people who are interested in voting aren’t actually registered to vote — either because they moved or they never registered in the first place (like first-time-eligible young voters).

Then either they forget about it until it’s too late or they just don’t bother.

Registering can be a minor hassle, especially if you have to go down to your local Board of Elections office to register or go on the Board of Elections website to download a form. Who wants to go to all that trouble?

So today, we’re eliminating that excuse by publishing this voter registration form. (We stole the idea from the Ithaca Times.)

Print it out and fill it out. Or go to the print version of the paper today and cut it out. Filling it out takes about a minute. Once you have your paper copy, just mail it in. If you need additional copies, photocopy it. Or better yet for us, go buy some extra newspapers.

Either way, the state Board of Elections assures us this will count as your official registration if you get it in on time. We’ve even provided the addresses of local Boards of Elections (below).

The deadline for registering in order to vote in the Nov. 6 general election is this coming Friday, Oct. 12. You can either register in person at a local Board of Elections office on or before that date, or you can drop off or mail your registration form, making sure it’s postmarked by Friday.

The form has to get to the Board of Elections by mail by Oct. 17, so try not to wait until the very last minute.

Either way you register, time is getting short.

This will save you the trouble of tracking down a form. All you have to do is find an envelope and stamp and drop it in the mailbox.

If you’re interested in joining a political party so you can vote in next year’s primaries, now’s the time to check the box on the form. If you try to change your party enrollment after Friday, you won’t be eligible to vote in any of next year’s primaries. It’s a dumb rule, but one that has excluded many potential voters from participating in selecting their party’s candidates for the general election. So do it now while you’re thinking of it.

Of course, registration is meaningless if you don’t actually show up and vote.

Here in New York, we have one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country.

In the last midterm election in 2014, only 29 percent of New Yorkers bothered to vote — putting us in 49th place in the entire country.

That’s kind of a habit with us New Yorkers. On average between 2002 and 2014, voter turnout for midterms was less than 35 percent in New York.

In the last general election, one in four voters nationwide was ineligible due to registration issues.

About 30 percent of eligible voters in the United States aren’t registered to vote. Are you one of them?

So if your excuse for not voting is that it’s too much of a bother to register, we hope you’ll take our ham-handed hint, and our handy registration form, and sign up to vote.

It’s a privilege to vote. It’s your right. It’s your best, easiest way to make a difference.

Why wouldn’t you exercise that right?

No more excuses.

 

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