I am pleased to report that majority of local leagues, ILOs and Mals have completed the voter service survey for the June 23, 2020 primary. In fact, there are only five leagues who have not yet responded. The number of responses attests to the good working relationships local and state leagues have. I think this is in part due to the liaison contacts that have been established with members of the LWVNYS voter service committee and leagues. As expected, COVID pandemic and us being in PAUSE resulted in many changes in and cancellations of voter registration drives, candidate forums and GOTV.
In summary, as anticipated many leagues had to cancel their voter registration drives and in person candidate forums. Some leagues did try to register voters virtually with many more thinking of ways to do it this summer and fall. As expected many of our leagues met the challenge of planning and holding virtual forums. In fact 15 leagues held successful virtual candidate forums, got great visibility and learned that more voters were able to attend virtual forums than in person forums. Theses leagues will be sending us a write up of these for our toolklits so that we can learn from one another and leagues who have not yet done them can in the future. Again as anticipated, GOTV was even more challenging that in past years, but many leagues were creative using all tools available to them, from newspapers and radio to all forms of social media, from flyers distributed to recipients of school lunches and food banks to distribution of registration forms at protest rallies, from letters to the editors to videos and webinar and much more. The really good news is that leagues have already begun planning for this summer and fall. Many are editing or personalizing what other leagues have successfully done which were presented at the June 2 Zoom meeting, GOTV while Socially distancing. Also as anticipated VOTE 411 had greater participation than in past primary seasons. In this time of social distancing, VOTE 411 is more important than ever and leagues have been advertising and promoting it more.
What was different than anticipated, is that the surveys indicated far less questions and comments to leagues about absentee ballot process. This may in part due to person completing survey was not aware of some of the problems. We know that voters who may have had their ballots rejected, were never made aware of it and therefore not able to correct problem which is why LWVNY joined in the Absentee Voter litigation. Hopefully this litigation will not interfere with the good working relationship most of our leagues have with their county BOE.
As anticipated, most of our leagues (24) did have contact with their BOE before the June primary.( I believe of the five that responded they did not, some of these might have been because the ILO in the county was the one in contact and disseminating the information to local leagues.) What was surprising was surveys reported that BOE webpages had accurate information, that most sent out postcards with correct information and when wrong, sent out second post card, and that Early Voting in most places went smoothly. Over the past several months with all the changes and confusion of when primaries would be held, if people could vote absentee, where polling sites and how many would be available for EV and then on Primary Day, there was anticipation of many problems. In fact, there were major problems in some counties like NYC and Westchester but perhaps in many more there were not. If true, this is good news.
What we do know is that the next months will be busy planning for the registration, education, and GOTV for the upcoming elections. Leagues will be urged to contact their BOE and arrange for a meeting to offer suggestions and support. The voter service committee willbe revising a survey for leagues to answer after they complete this visit. The voter service committee will also be compiling materials for the tool kits on Voter Registration, Candidate Forums, and Get Out The Vote. We will be contacting our assigned leagues to find out how else we can help them in this time of uncertainty and what should be focus of next VS zoom webinar? In these uncertain, frequently changing times, one thing is certain: The LWVNYS and local leagues will be working together to fulfill our mission of registering, educating, and getting out the vote. (Details from surveys are attached separately)
General Election November 3, 2020
Early Voting October. 24 - November 1
Deadline for Voter Registration October 9 in person and postmarked
Application for Absentee Ballot October 27 postmarked; November 2 in person
By: Judie Gorenstein