The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life, including voting in the 2020 general election on Nov. 3.
Besides the presidential election, there are a number of congressional and state government seats to vote on. However, before anyone can vote, they must be registered. The last day to register is Friday, Oct. 9.
There are several registration options on the Ulster County Board of Elections’ website. Registering can be done online through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. If a physical voter registration form is preferred, it can be obtained by calling the Board of Elections at 845-334-5470, visiting their office, a local post office, library, city or town clerk’s office, or downloading the form and printing it out. Completed forms can be dropped off or mailed to the Board of Elections’ office.
The polls will remain open on election day for those that prefer to vote in person. Due to the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed election reforms into law that will allow any registered voter to use COVID-19 concerns as a reason to request an absentee ballot.
On Sept. 1, an online portal launched for voters to request an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots can also be requested by emailing, faxing, calling or visiting your local Board of Elections. Directions and resources for how to file an absentee ballot request for the Ulster County Board of Elections can be found here.
The New York State Board of Elections has advised that requests be sent in as soon as possible because “the post office has advised that they cannot guarantee timely delivery of ballots applied for less than 15 days before an election,” according to their website.
Once the ballot is received, directions for how to properly fill it out can also be found on the state Board of Elections’ website.
The last day to postmark an absentee ballot application is Oct. 27. The absentee ballot return envelope must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by the state Board of Elections by Nov. 10.
Early voting is also taking place from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 for those who would like to avoid potentially crowded polls. The Ulster County Board of Elections is offering early voting in five locations. Locations and hours are listed on their website. Anyone who is registered to vote in Ulster County can vote early at any of the locations.
At SUNY New Paltz, students are choosing to vote in a variety of ways for this election.
“I am voting by absentee ballot this year. I did so for the primaries and it was so quick and easy,” said third-year student Christopher Lunetta. “I was probably going to vote by absentee ballot either way, but especially now because of the pandemic it seems like the safest way to make sure my voice is heard.”
Other students will be going to the polls.
“My plans to vote have not changed due to COVID-19 as I still plan to vote in person,” said third-year student Hallie McCarthy.
There will be several races on the ballot this year, with the most prominent being the presidential election. President Donald Trump is running against former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee. If Trump wins, he will remain in office for a second term with Vice President Mike Pence. If Biden wins, he will lead with Sen. Kamala Harris as vice president.
All New York State Senate and Assembly seats are also up for election, as well as all U.S. House of Representatives seats.
New Paltz is located in New York State Senate District 42. Incumbent Sen. Jen Metzger is running against Republican nominee Mike Martucci. Metzger was elected to the Senate in 2018 and is the Chair of the Committee on Agriculture. Her platform can be found here. Martucci was elected president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association in 2015. His platform can be found here.
New York State Assembly District 103 includes New Paltz and is currently represented by Democrat Rep. Kevin Cahill, a SUNY New Paltz graduate who was elected to the Assembly in 1992 and has served as chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance since 2013. More information on his previous work in the Assembly can be found here. Cahill is running against Republican Rex Bridges. Bridges is a Navy veteran, and information about his campaign can be found here.
New Paltz is part of the U.S. House of Representatives District 19, where Democrat Rep. Antonio Delgado has been the representative since 2018. Delgado is a member of the U.S. House Committees on Agriculture, Small Business, and Transportation and Infrastructure. More information on his platform can be found here. Delgado’s Republican opponent is Kyle Van De Water. He was a village trustee in Millbrook from 2017-2018, and more information on his platform can be found here. Steven Greefield will be running as a candidate on the Green Party ticket, and Victoria Alexander will be running as a candidate for the Libertarian Party.
For some college students, this will be the first presidential election in which they are eligible to vote, and many are taking the responsibility seriously.
“It is one of the ways that we can make sure our voices are heard by the people in power,” Lunetta said. “We have to stand behind representatives who will fight for our interests and protect our civil liberties, which seem to be in more and more danger every day.”
“I’m voting in this election because of how much is at stake,” McCarthy said “With the pandemic still raging in America and all of the social justice issues we’ve seen, another four years of Donald Trump would mean a total lack of progress in this country.”
It is especially important for young people to vote, as they have a large voice and will be facing the consequences of their government’s decisions for years to come.
“The people in charge right now are mainly straight white old men,” Lunetta said “That is not the demographic of our future, and they are completely out of touch with our evolving reality and desires. We are the ones who are going to have to deal with the consequences of our political actions, and we need to have a say in where we are heading as a nation. We have become so desensitized to tragedy, but we need to make sure we are fighting for a better future for all of us.”