Open Buffalo staff and volunteers recently launched an initiative to educate voters about important changes to voting rights and access to the polls in New York State. Teams fanned out to inform our Jefferson Avenue neighbors about the upcoming October 11th voter registration deadline for participation in 2019 Election Day. We registered first-time voters and distributed New York State Voter Registration forms so current voters could submit change of address information.
This year marks the beginning of early voting for New Yorkers. Beginning October 26th, registered voters can access eleven polling places in the City of Buffalo (of a total 34 in Erie County). Not sure if you’re registered? Confirm your status at the Board of Elections’ secure voter registration search page.
Polls will be open to early voters between 12-9 pm Monday-Friday and between 12-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Here is a list of all Erie County early voting site addresses. (It includes parking and accessibility information.)
Other important changes extend greater rights to New Yorkers who’ve been convicted of a crime. Those currently on probation or parole may be able to vote. The best online verification method is the Parolee Lookup website, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. NYCLU says: “[L] look for the Voting Restoration Pardon indicator. Note that only those whose parole status shows as ‘Active’ are eligible for restoration pardons; if your parole has been discharged, or your maximum sentence has expired, your right to vote has already been restored.” The NYCLU says ‘this is the same website the Board of Elections will use to verify your eligibility.’ Another option is to confirm your status with your parole or probation officer.
The 2018 midterms were marked by accusations of voter suppression (Georgia, Florida, North Dakota) and a momentous change in the political landscape (the Democratic takeover of the House. With early voting and increased access, it should be easier for hourly workers, those with family obligations and the previously disenfranchised to make their voices heard at the polls this November.