Voting Remains an Essential Freedom

By Assemblyman Will Barclay

For the past several months now, those who watch the news or read the paper have been inundated with messages and platforms from both major political parties.  No matter whom you’ve decided to support—on a federal or state level—I want to encourage you to get out and vote on Election Day, Nov. 4.  Voting is a privilege our forefathers and mothers fought for.  Unfortunately, many do not take advantage of this right.

In the 2004 presidential election, only 64 percent of U.S. citizens voted.  Though pollsters predict that voter turnout for this presidential election will be greater than in elections past, time will tell if those predictions are accurate.  In New York, only 67 percent of New Yorkers were registered to vote in 2004; of that 67 percent, only 60 percent voted.  That means a majority of New Yorkers are not taking part in the electoral process.  According to the U.S. Census 2004 voting statistics, New York ranked 43rd in the nation for voter turnout.

Voting is an important and fundamental way people can make their voices heard by leaders in local government, in Albany and beyond.  One of my goals as an elected representative has been to increase the number of registered voters.  We’ve mailed and printed voter registration forms to hundreds of people throughout the district and those forms are still available through my office.  Also, Help America Vote Act and other state laws have simplified the voter registration process.  The controversy that surrounded the 2000 Presidential election made it clear our country needed better oversight and standards on voting systems throughout the nation.  As a result, the federal government passed the Help America Vote Act, otherwise known as HAVA.  The objective of HAVA is to create universal federal voting standards.  Protecting individuals’ right to vote, improving accessibility and ensuring the integrity of our elections is the goal of HAVA.

In New York State, it’s also now possible to register, re-register and make address changes at many state and local offices, including the departments of Labor, Social Services, Motor Vehicles and at State Universities.  My office can also help constituents register to vote.  New Yorkers who move within the county automatically have their voter registration transferred to the new address and a notice sent confirming their new polling place whenever the Board of Elections receives notice of the move, such as when you register your vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Though you may have missed your opportunity to register to vote in this general election, I would encourage you to take the time to register anyway so you’re prepared to vote in the next school referendum, the next village election or the next primary.  Again, my office is happy to help in this process and we will promptly mail a voter registration form to your home. The power of the vote remains intact and should not be taken for granted or wasted.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.