by Sophia Sakellariou, Senior Writer
Welcome to Manhattan Caucus, a biweekly column that provides the Manhattan College community with election news and information as we gear up for the 2020 Presidential Election. To kick off this semester, we’ve started with the basics: voting.
Voting is one of the greatest ways to be politically active and perform your civic duty as an American citizen. However, it is not as simple as walking to the polls, casting your ballot, and receiving a coveted “I Voted” sticker. Depending on which state you reside in and where you are registered, the process can be much more difficult. This may be your first time voting so it is crucial to have a plan of action. Below is a brief guide to understanding the process and ensuring your ballot is cast on Nov. 3.
Reminders on Who Can Vote:
To vote you must be a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years of age, be a resident of the county or city in which you are voting in for at least 30 days before the election, not be in jail or on parole for a convicted felony, and you must not claim the right to vote anywhere else.
New Yorkers don’t have to wait until Election Day to cast their vote. The early voting period runs from Saturday October 24, to Sunday November 1, but these dates vary depending on where you live in the state. To check for Early Voting locations and times in your area, enter your information at https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/.
In-Person Voting on Election Day:
New York residents must vote in the district in which they are registered. To check where you can vote, go to https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/ and enter your information. This site will tell you which Election Day Poll Site to go to to cast your ballot along with directions on how to get there. If you’re a first-time voter, be sure to bring an ID with you to the polls. If you do not have a driver’s license, a government issued document with your name and address is a valid form of identification.
Voting by Mail:
For residents outside of their registered voting district, an absentee ballot can be submitted. This is a great option for students who live on campus and are registered to vote at their home address, not their college address. Note that you need to be registered to receive an absentee ballot and can check your registration status at https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/.
An application for an absentee ballot must be submitted 7 days prior to the election and can be found online at elections.ny.gov. As stated on the top of the application, “The ballot itself must either be personally delivered to the board of elections no later than the close of polls on election day, or postmarked by a governmental postal service not later than the day of the election and received no later than the 7th day after the election.”
Of Note: You Cannot Vote Twice
A recent announcement by President Trump encouraging citizens to vote twice has caused much confusion around the process. This is an act of voter fraud in many states. New York gives voters the option to vote by absentee ballot and later vote again at the polls, but this does not mean New Yorkers can vote twice. By casting a ballot at the polls, the previous vote by absentee ballot is voided, making each individual valid for one vote.
For Other States:
Each state has its own voting rules and some processes are more straightforward than others. To check in with your home state’s rules go to https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-rules/ where you can also register to vote if you have not done so already. For many states the deadline to register is 30 days before the election so act now. Remember: your vote counts. Be sure to let your voice be heard this November.