By Marcia Moxam Comrie
Special to the Eagle
The cliche “vote early and often” has, at least in part, come true for millions of voters across New York City.
In Southeast Queens, there are polling sites for early voting in places like Rochdale Village and York College, where the CUNY outpost is seeing thousands of voters traipse into its faculty dining room to cast an early ballot.
As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing.
Although this election season seems quiet by comparison to others, there are some very important seats up for grabs, including Queens District Attorney. Citywide, we have the Public Advocate race as well. Civil and Supreme Court candidates are also on the ballot, along with five charter revision proposals that require a “yes” or “no” vote.
Being able to vote early in person as opposed to casting an absentee ballot or waiting until Election Day is an idea whose time has come and couldn’t have come at a better time. This is a quiet election because there is no mayoral, gubernatorial or presidential race so it’s a great test run for the system.
Though voting days or even weeks in advance of an official election day may feel anticlimactic, it is a great convenience to be able to vote on your own terms before the masses turn out on actual Election Day.
A right as crucial as voting should be made as accessible and as convenient as possible, to accommodate as many people as possible. That’s what this new policy has achieved.
Seventeen years ago, when H. Carl McCall ran for governor, I was looking forward to voting for him. I had never missed voting in a single election and I was quite fond of McCall as a candidate for governor. Well, on the eve of Election Day, I came down with a severe case of the flu.
On Election Day, I had the shivers and body aches so severe I could barely get out of bed, let alone get out of the house on the chilly November day to go vote. I missed out and was crestfallen.
Had there been early voting options in those days I would have been able to vote. McCall, of course, lost the election to the incumbent, George Pataki. He didn’t lose because he lost my one vote, but how many other single votes did he not get because of one crisis or another in voters’ lives? It’s the cumulative effect of losing many votes that can cost a qualified candidate an election.
Andrew Cuomo, who had also been in the race, had dropped out, but it was too late to get his name removed from the ballot. That also was a contributing factor in McCall’s loss as it siphoned off votes that would otherwise have gone to him. McCall should probably never have run for governor that year anyway.
There was an open U.S. Senate seat for which he could have run. McCall was a dream candidate, but instead chose to challenge a still fairly popular Republican incumbent. Hillary Clinton of course moved to New York and won the Senate seat and McCall left public life.
Many other candidates over the decades must surely have lost an election due to similar lack of voting options. Too many people fail to consider casting an absentee ballot. They think it’s “too much of a hassle” or they don’t think it will matter.
Well, now we have several days of options. This year, people are enjoying being able to vote early for their candidates and propositions. Nine days’ worth of early voting is as good as it gets.
Let’s do it again and always!
Marcia Moxam Comrie is a freelance writer from St. Albans, Queens.