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Voters always dictate path for area, nation

Midterm elections will soon be here. Are you ready to vote?

It has been an unusually confusing election year in Chautauqua County. We had a primary in June, another primary and a special election in August, and now a general election on Nov. 8.

First and foremost, are you registered? Registration forms are available at most post offices and government offices, and can be found on the state Board of Elections website (www.elections.ny.gov) and the Chautauqua County Board of Elections website (chqgov.com/board of elections).

If you are not going to be home in order to vote at your polling place, either early or on Nov. 8, you can apply for an absentee ballot online. Your application must be mailed by Oct. 24 at the latest to give enough time for you to receive and return your absentee ballot.

If you are temporarily or permanently ill or disabled, or care for someone who is, you are eligible for an absentee ballot, this also includes the purpose of avoiding COVID risk. Your ballot must be received either in person by the close of election day or be postmarked by the day of the election and received within seven days after the election. According to a new rule, once you have requested an absentee ballot, whether or not you use it, you will not be able to vote on the voting machine. You will be given a provisional affidavit ballot to fill out which will be counted provided no absentee ballot has been received.

To make it easier in our busy lives to find time to vote, New York has established early voting. It begins Saturday, Oct. 29 and runs through Sunday, Nov 6. Should you choose to vote traditionally on Nov 8, the polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Now, let’s review what happened in the prior two elections that were held this year. The first primary in June was to choose the Republican candidate to run for governor and the Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. It resulted in Lee Zeldin chosen to run against Kathy Hochul with Antonio Delgado. It was a very simple, quick ballot to fill out.

The August election was a bit more complicated, and confused many of us. It consisted of a primary for the republican party to select which candidate would run for the 2-year term in the House of Representatives for the newly redistricted congressional 23rd.

Simultaneously, a special election was held to choose who would complete the term that Tom Reed left early, that same office but with the old district configuration that Reed served. Subsequently, registered Republicans received two separate ballots. All other voters received only the special election ballot to choose between Max Della Pia, the Democratic candidate, and Joseph Sempolinski, the Republican who would be a “place holder” for the office while their primary was being decided. While Sempolinski won, Della Pia did well considering the draw of Republican voters to their well-publicized primary between Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy.

And yes, Della Pia is still in the race for the November election. Since he did not have a primary opponent, he became the candidate to run against Langworthy, who beat Paladino in their primary. The 23rd district that one of them will represent is different from the one that Reed left, removing some of the eastern counties and adding some of Erie County, changes decided on as a result of the 2020 census. Next year, the county voting districts will be redone also, so there will also be changes to polling places to look forward to.

The November ballot will be a full one. We will be choosing the following: governor/lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, U.S. senator, state Supreme Court justices, U.S. representative, state senator, state assembly member and county sheriff. Candidates are not running unopposed. All the offices except for sheriff have competition. That is what democracy is about, giving voters a choice.

Holding candidates accountable, keeping them “on their toes” and keeping the voters engaged also so they are more apt to inform themselves and make smart choices. Our representatives are only as good as the voters make them be. Borrello and Goodell have competitors in Dan Brown and Sandra Lewis. Be sure to do your research on the newcomers.

Zeldin’s campaign is already involved in a fraud case under investigation by the NYDA. Langworthy’s experience included being a member of Trump’s transition team, responsible for vetting and recommending cabinet officials and high-ranking staff. We saw the disastrous results of those selections.

One last item on the ballot is on the back. Often a referendum is put to the voters for a decision on a proposed law. The November ballot will have a state-wide proposal called “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022” which seeks approval for the sale of state bonds to fund such environmental protection projects.

In the town of Sheridan, a second proposal will appear on the ballot. Considering the residents of the town should have a say in whether the sale of cannabis be allowed, and that did not occur in the manner that the decision was made, a referendum will make it possible for the Sheridan voters to make the decision. The Proposal reads: “Shall there be approved and adopted in the town of Sheridan, New York, a local law entitled A local law to opt-out of allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites, as authorized under cannabis law, Article IV by the Town of Sheridan.” A yes will allow the opt-out to become law, thus preventing the sale of cannabis. A no will rescind the Opt-out law, and allow the sale of cannabis, mindful that local authorities have ample control over the details under which a dispensary operates, and the state will do the licensing and regulating.

I just want everyone to think of this when they go to vote: Conservativism is not Authoritarianism. A conservative candidate, along with a moderate, liberal, or progressive, believes in the rule of law and sticks up for the democratic process of government for the people.

Don’t let authoritarianism take hold. Our country is in danger of following the lead of other countries where this tendency is gaining ground, it has been creeping in here for awhile and is now very evident. Democracy needs its voters!

Susan Bigler is a Sheridan resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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