Letters to the Editor - Millerton News - 8-1-19

Changes in place for voting

This year the New York Legislature made a series of changes to the state’s antiquated voting system. Consistently low voter turnout in the state, as well as dramatic failures at New York City polling places in 2018, prompted Albany to make registering and voting easier for New Yorkers.

Included in this year’s budget were a number of reforms, foremost being the addition of early voting. Following the path of 39 other states, New York will now provide more time for citizens to cast a ballot. The law allows for early voting in the period preceding Election Day that includes two full weekends and will conclude the second day before the election. 

Early voting for the general election on Nov. 5 will start on Oct. 26 and end on Nov. 3. Polling places during the early period will be fewer, with one required for every 50,000 registered voters. Locations for early voting in our area are still to be determined. Military personnel overseas will also be given more time to cast an absentee ballot, bringing New York state into compliance with federal law.

Unlike most states, New York has held federal primaries on separate dates from state ones. The new law will combine them, reducing costs and simplifying the process for voters. Electronic Poll Books, which will digitize the registration rolls, have also been approved for purchase.

New York residents who move within the state will no longer have to remember to change their voting location directly with the Board of Elections. They will be automatically re-registered when they submit a change of address form with the post office. Employees are also guaranteed 3 hours paid-time off to vote. As of Jan. 1, 2020, pre-registering will now be an option for 16 and 17 year old New Yorkers.

Additional measures are in the works. Currently it takes a year to change party affiliation. The Legislature is proposing to reduce that to a 25-day period. Same day registration and vote by mail are changes being sought that require action from two separate sessions of the Legislature as well as approval in a public referendum. Many see the requirement to pre-register as an unnecessary obstacle and New York would become the 18th state to allow registration to be done at the polls. A system of electronic verification would prevent people from voting in multiple locations. Voting by mail, also known as “No-Excuse” absentee ballot is currently an option in the majority of the country and allows citizens to fill out a ballot and mail it within a prescribed time. Both Oregon and Colorado have gotten rid of physical polls all together and only allow for mail in ballots.

More detailed information and updates on the status of voting reforms in New York state can be found on Let New York Vote’s website www.letnyvote.org.

Chris Regan



Woodstock was a half-century ago — so was Vietnam

As one knows, Woodstock’s 50th anniversary is coming up Aug. 15th to the 18th. Fifty years ago and 8,429 miles away, the Vietnam War was going on.

According to the article written in VFW magazine’s August issue by Richard K. Kolb, “514,000 mostly young Americans were authentically serving the country that raised them to place society over self. The casualties they sustained over those four days were genuine, yet none of the elite media outlets were praising their selflessness.”

I was one of many people who were there — my tour took place during the years January 1969 to January 1970. During this period while Woodstock was going on, 109 Americans were killed. They sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we have today.

The majority of Americans had no idea what was going on in the world during those four days. Kolb wrote: “So when you hear talk of the glories of Woodstock the so-called ‘defining event of a generation’ — keep in mind those 109 GI’s who served nobly yet are never lauded by the illustrious spokesmen for the Sixties Generation.”

Robert E. Andrus Jr.

Vietnam veteran