Making Democracy Work

Elections and Voter Information

We make voting easier through voter education programs.

Voter Services Report May 2018

Meeting with Commissioners of Schenectady County Board of Elections: On April 4 five of us met with Commissioners Amy Hild (Democrat) and Darlene Harris (Republican). This was a very productive meeting and gave us an overview of the resources available to us at the B of E. Other areas we discussed were ways to get high school students to register to vote and increasing efforts to get out the vote in our communities.

The Board of Elections need more people to be poll workers on election days. Currently the poll inspectors must work the full hours the polls are open, which on general election days can be 16 hours or more! If there were more inspectors shifts could be arranged of shorter hours. Contact the Board of Elections if you are interested 518-377-2469.

Confidential Voter Registration: Voter Registration files are open to the public. They can be inspected and all information provided on the voter registration form is available for view. The Commissioners made us aware that in certain circumstances, voters can have their voter registration information removed from the public files----only the Commissioners have access to the information on these forms. Confidential Voter Registration is available to victims of domestic violence. For further information persons should contact one of the Commissioners at the Board of Elections

NYS Special Ballot Application: Those voters having one of the following situations which prevents them from voting in person at their designated polling place may apply for a Special Ballot:

  • Persons whose religious scruples oppose voting at a polling place located in premises used for religious purposes.
  • Persons who are Board of Elections Employee, election inspector, poll clerk, election coordinator or voting machine custodian/techncian and whose duties as such require them to be elsewhere
  • Persons who are victims of domestic violence and have left their residence because of such violence and because of the threat of physical or emotional harm to themselves or family or household members wish to cast a special ballot.

Anyone in one of these circumstances can apply for the Special Ballot at their Board of Elections.

Voter Registration: A meeting will be held on Thursday, May 3 at 10 AM to plan for Voter Registration activities for the summer and fall. Peg Foley is hosting this meeting at her home 1921 Lenox Road. Schenectady. Please let her know if you are able to attend (pegfoley1921@gmail.com; 518 346-5923).

Kids Arts Festival, June 2: Help is still needed for the League's table at the Kid's Arts Festival. We will be registering voters, conducting a voting experience for kids and surveying adults regarding the activities of the day. Please contact Kay Ackerman at kaydonack@aol.com or 518-393-5000 if you could help at the 11 + 1:30 shift; or the 1:30 + 4 PM shift.

Kay Ackerman, Voter Services Chair

Voter Services Report April 2018

2018 Elections Calendar Change: The NYS Legislature has revised the 2018 Elections Calendar as follows: State & Local Primary Day 2018 has been changed to Thursday September 13.

Voter Registration: We are undertaking a vigorous voter registration effort this spring with two new projects:

  • New Citizen Voter Registration + The LWV will be attending Naturalization Ceremonies this year to provide voting information and assistance to new citizens in filling out voter registration forms provided by the County Board of Elections. An average of 60 new citizens are sworn in each month and we are looking for 2 or 3 volunteers to assist in this endeavor. All ceremonies are held at the Hibernian Hall, 1748 State Street, Schenectady, starting at 9:30 AM. Help is needed on May 18, June 22, July 20, Aug. 24, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, and Nov. 16.
  • High School Student Voter Registration + With the increased interest on the part of high school students regarding recent school safety issues nationally, we are hoping to visit the high schools in Schenectady County to provide voter registration opportunities for students who will be eligible to vote in the 2018 elections. As dates are arranged, more information will be forthcoming. If you have an interest in visiting a particular high school, contact Kay Ackerman.

Other Voter registration "opportunities" will be scheduled through out the summer and fall. Your help will be needed and appreciated.

Kids Arts Festival + The League will be conducting a "Kids Votes Count" activity at the Kid's Arts Festival on Saturday, June 2 In downtown Schenectady. This is an opportunity for us to be a presence at a broad community event. We will be offering the kids a chance to vote for their favorite activity and have general voter information (including voter registration forms and absentee ballot application forms) for adults attending. In addition we will be conducting a survey for the Festival organizers to help them in planning for the future. The League will be given a stipend for conducting the survey.

If you can help us with any of the above activities, please contact:
Kay Ackerman
Voter Services Chair
518 393-5000

Candidate Forum Policy

Goal: to educate voters on the issues; to stimulate voter interest; to encourage voter participation in elections; to present programs in a nonpartisan manner

All candidates for office who meet New York State election law requirements to be on the ballot and are involved in contested races are eligible to take part in candidate forums.

New Policy Prohibiting Open Chair Candidate Events

Our past policy on prohibiting open chair debates or forums for federal races was in accordance with FEC regulations which stipulate that providing a platform for a federal candidate to address the public is considered to be a contribution of "something of value" and subject to contributions or expenditures limitations and prohibitions of federal election laws. However, a non-profit 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 can stage a debate or forum without triggering the finance campaign limitations provided that the debate includes at least two candidate

These regulations according to FEC as well as FCC and IRS regulations are not limited to just candidate debates but all candidate meetings where candidates are making appearances.

Having different rules for federal and nonfederal races leads to confusion among the candidates who did not understand why some debates could be held with one candidate and others could not.

The rationale that underlies the FCC prohibition on empty chair debates--that such practice is tantamount to a contribution to the candidate who appears, applies as strongly to the state, county or local level as it does to federal elections. As we all can agree, it is in blatant violation of the League's non-partisan policy to make a financial contribution to a candidate.

In certain areas of the state, where candidates from one party often run unopposed, the League can be perceived as being partisan by providing a forum for that candidate and party to speak.

The state board has considered the many questions and concerns before adopting the new policy. The goal of this new policy is to have consistency across the state for all League events, and even more importantly, to confirm our nonpartisanship publicly. Remember that as long as you have at least 2 candidates for a race, you can hold the event, you don't need to have all, or even 2 from the major parties any, 2 candidates for a race is allowed.

We understand the view that the public has a right to hear from candidates and prohibiting an open chair event gives a candidate, often an incumbent, the power to control whether the event is held or not, thus preventing the other candidate from being heard. Although the debate cannot be held, the following steps can be taken to avoid this result and still conform to the new policy.

If a candidate forum/event is being held for multiple races on the same evening (e.g. town supervisor and town board), and only one candidate is present for one of those races (notified in advance or not), the forum/debate for that race cannot be held. The moderator can and should make a statement in the beginning of the event explaining why the specific forum was cancelled citing a lack of response or a negative response by the non-appearing candidates. The moderator can then introduce the candidates in the audience whose forums were cancelled, The candidates can stand and be recognized and, although not allowed to speak at that time, can speak individually to the voters following the formal part of the event. They should be encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.

Explanation of the Primary Process in NYS

Presidential Primaries in New York State

The Democratic and Republican primaries in New York State are different in important ways, but have similarities. Both are "closed" primaries; participation is limited to the voters who have registered in the party that is sponsoring the election. While delegates are not bound by any law to vote for any particular candidate at the party's national convention, both parties have "pledged" candidates who vote for the candidate to whom they are "pledged". Both parties also have "un-pledged" and/or "super" delegates, who are not committed to a particular candidate. A certain number of delegates in each party participate because they occupy a particular elective or party position. Before the primary, candidates submit to the board of elections a list of delegates from each congressional district that are committed to them. These delegates actually appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary, along with a statewide presidential democratic candidate, but do not appear on the ballot in the Republican primary.

Details of the Nominating Process

Democrats: "Proportional" Primary, 281 delegates at stake New York Democrats have a total of 281 delegates, 151 of whom are "pledged" and will be elected proportionally based on the results of the February 5th primary within each congressional district. In addition, 45 are automatic and/or chosen from party leaders. The remaining 85 delegates are selected at a state Democratic committee meeting in May.

The Democratic Party in New York always uses a proportional method for awarding delegates. The percentage of delegates each candidate is awarded (or the number of undecided delegates) is representative of the number of primary votes for the candidate.

The Democratic Party primary in New York is really a "dual primary." Candidates for president appear on the ballot and run against each other in a statewide primary, and delegates and alternate delegates run in each congressional district. Delegates and alternates are either committed to a presidential candidate or uncommitted, and males and females are equally represented among the delegate choices for a candidate.

Republicans: "Winner-take-all" Primary, 101 delegates at stake

The National Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, allows each state to decide whether to use a "winner-take-all method" or the "proportional" method. In the winner-take-all method, the candidate whom the majority of caucus participants or voters support receives all the delegates for the state. New York is a "winner take all" state.

In New York, the selection of delegates and alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention is determined by a statewide primary of candidates for the office of President. Unlike the Democratic primary ballot, the names of the delegates and alternate delegates do no appear. Based on the results of the February 5th presidential primary, 87 of the state's 101 Republican delegates are allocated to the presidential candidate with the most votes statewide. At a Republican state committee meeting, the remaining 14 unpledged delegates are selected from party leaders.

Local Boards of Elections

Schenectady County Board of Elections 2696 Hamburg Street Schenectady, NY 12303 518-377-2469

New York State Board of Elections 40 North Pearl St. Suite 5 Albany, NY 12207-2729 518-474-6220 Email: INFO@elections.ny.gov

City Council and Town Board Meetings

Schenectady City Council meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays at the City Hall, 7 p.m.

Glenville Town Board meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at the Municipal Center, 7:30 p.m.

Rotterdam Town Board meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at Assembly Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Niskayuna Town Board: Call 386-4592 for the schedule

Schenectady County Legislature Meetings

The Schenectady County Legislature meets the 2nd Tuesdays in the County Office Building at 7 p.m.

Local and State-Wide Political Information

Click here for political information about the City and County of Schenectady, the Capital District Area, and Statewide Politics.

The above is a web-site maintained by the SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE, a service of the Schenectady County Public Library.

The League of Women Voters Education Fund conducts voter service and citizen education activities. It is a nonpartisan nonprofit public policy educational organization, which:

  • Builds citizen participation in the democratic process.

  • Studies key community issues at all government levels in an unbiased manner.

  • Enables people to seek positive solutions to public policy issues through education and conflict management.

Donations to the Education Fund, a 501(c)(3)corporation, are fully tax-deductible where allowed by law.