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League, AAUW hear of recent election changes

The League of Women Voters of Chautauqua Country, along with the American Association of University Women of Jamestown, welcomed the Chautauqua Country Board of Elections to a recent “Hot Topics Luncheon,” held at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celeron. Board of Elections Commissioners Brian C. Abram and Norman P. Green shared the microphone, presenting an overview of New York State’s newly enacted election reforms.

New Yorkers saw swift election reforms passed and signed into law by the governor at the start of the Legislature session in January. Reforms going into effect in 2019 include: early voting; consolidation of primary dates; and portability of voter registrations. The state Legislature is moving forward on the process of changing the New York State Constitution to allow voting by absentee ballot without needing an excuse. Also, same-day Election Day voter registration is being pursued for a state Constitutional change.

Early voting will take place in New York state for the first time this year. Chautauqua County’s plan will allow voters to cast ballots at three sites in Chautauqua County, as early as 10 days before the 2019 November Election. (Visit www.co.chautauqua.ny.us for comprehensive information about elections and early voting).

Effective January 2020, the pre-registration of 16-and 17-year-olds will be allowed. The voter registration form will explain pre-registration and allow for the form to be pending. The Department of Motor Vehicles form will change as well, allowing youth to pre-register to vote while obtaining a permit to drive.

Online voter registration will commence in 2020, as will expansion of primary hours, to standardize primary hours across the state.

Abram and Green exphasized the long-standing and positive relationship between Chautauqua County’s League of Women Voters and the County’s Board of Elections, each promoting efforts to get out the vote and create a positive voting experience. The commissioners stressed the importance of yellow voter registration cards which are mailed to registered voters on an annual basis. These cards are an important tool for updating voter rolls. They should be returned to the Board of Elections via U.S. mail if addressee no longer resides at the address on the card.

The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held just six months before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constiturion was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.

From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization, which is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporing nor opposing candidates of political parties at any level of government. The League welcomes new male and female members to help realize its motto: “The League of Women Voters in Chautauqua County is where hands-on work to safeguard democaracy leads to civic improvement.” Go to lwv@chautauqua.org for more information about the local League, and to learn how you can participate in keeping democracy strong.

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