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Early Voting: It’s a Thing (Here’s What to Know)

constitutional convention

Photo courtesy NYPIRG

by Jocelyn Jane Cox

Did you know that you can now vote early here in NY state? Election Day is Nov 5, but starting Oct 26, you can stop into four different polling places here in Rockland to exercise your most inviolable right. (See locations and hours below.)

The expanded schedule is a fantastic development. I say this as someone who has formerly missed a shameful number of minor, off-year elections–I forgot! Or: I didn’t know any of the candidates! Or: I couldn’t fit it into my “busy” day! Or: I didn’t even realize it was happening! I have more recently come to understand that, in fact, no elections are minor. 

Here are some specific reasons why early voting is a very good thing:

Bragging Rights: You know that super-cool sticker you receive once you’ve done the deed? Sometimes they run out toward the end of Election Day, but the early bird gets the sticker. You can now wear this proudly (or even smugly) on your jacket, your sweater, or even your face for nine days straight. Not only does this remind people that you are an A+++ citizen, it reminds people to get out there and follow your excellent example.

Increased Voter Turnout: I read somewhere that New York State has a 46 percent voter turnout rate. If this statistic doesn’t bring on a minor cardiac event or at least make you wince, then you may have been absent the day they taught percentages back in fourth grade. I suspect that I was absent that day, but according to my inexpert calculations, this means that more than half of the residents of this beautiful state are letting their votes and opinions go un-counted. It also means that the politicians we have in office don’t actually represent the population.

Convenience Galore: This is, in fact, the whole reason behind it. I’m sorry to report that you really have no excuse anymore. For example:

  • “My dog ate my car.” This used to be a valid excuse, but don’t even try it now. Nobody’s going to believe that your dog ate your car (and your friend’s car and your other friend’s car, and the uber driver’s car, and the bus, and your bike, and your scooter) nine days in a row.
  • “I had a stomach bug.” Let’s face it, this was never a good reason to skip out on voting–while it’s definitely disgusting to show up at the polls with a puke bucket, it’s not illegal. Now you have plenty of time to eat a whole sleeve of saltines and half a banana and see if they stay down before you head over to cast your vote.
  • “I had to bake and frost 150,000 cupcakes for the school bake sale.” Yes, this takes what feels like an eternity, but this tedious project does not actually take nine days straight. You can use your trip to Town Hall as a much-needed baking break. Poll selfies are prohibited, but aprons are not.
  • “I was held captive by a pack of marauding, anti-democracy tigers.” Of course, we always believed each other when we claimed this, but nine days (216 hours to be exact) is surely enough time to plan and implement your escape or use your powers of persuasion to convert them to your belief in a free and just society, not to mention a representative government.
  • “I was hung over.” Of course, for some of us, Monday nights are a big party night. For others, Election Eve can be incredibly stressful and many of us overdo it before the big day. I’m aware that alarm clocks are difficult to set when tipsy. I also know that coffee makers can be confusing that next morning. Now though? The pressure is officially off! You have so many opportunities to vote, and then get celebratory drinks afterwards…you can’t possibly miss it by accident. (Right?)
  • “It was raining.” No need to mess up that gorgeous hair of yours, or get a single drop of rain on your beloved suede shoes. Just look out the window and venture out when the weather suits you. The process is supposed to be even more comfortable and pain-free than it was before.

Increased Chances that Your Candidate Might Win, Our Society Will Live up to its Constitution, and that Democracy will Prevail: Enough said.

See you at the polls–or maybe we won’t cross paths there this year, because there are just so many hours to choose from!

NYS Early Voting Opens This Weekend

Here is when and where you can get ahead of the voting curve here in Rockland County. (Note that you can now vote on Halloween! Don’t even get me started on the number of interesting possibilities that creates):

Vote any at any of the following four Town Halls in Rockland County beginning on Oct 26: Clarkstown Town Hall (10 Maple Avenue, New City), Haverstraw Town Hall (1 Rosman Road, Garnerville), Orangetown Town Hall (26 West Orangeburg Road, Orangeburg), Ramapo Town Hall (237 Route 59, Suffern)

Sat & Sun, Oct 26-27, 9a-2p

Mon Oct 28, 12n-8p
Tues Oct 29, 9a-5p
Wed Oct 30, 12n-8p
Thu Oct 31, 9a-5p
Fri, Nov 1, 9a-5p,

Sat & Sun, Nov 2-3, 9a-2p

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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