BROOKTONDALE, N.Y. — If you are a new resident in New York or have changed your address since the last election, you likely received an informational card from the Tompkins County Board of Elections. If so, you also might be confused about when the presidential primary is actually happening.
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The notifications indicated that there is a primary and general election happening Sept. 13 — which is true for state and local elections. But it does not mention that the national presidential primary is April 19.
Brooktondale resident Erin Keeble, 31, said she knows when the presidential primary is, but is concerned some people who received the notice might not be as privy to the information.
So she contacted the county board of elections and said she spoke to a woman — Keeble does not recall her name — about the issue.
Keeble said the woman told her, “If people don’t know what is going on in the elections, that’s their fault.”
Keeble said she moved to United States with her family from England when she was 8-years-old and became a citizen when she was 18-years-old. She said she has voted in the past two elections and says it’s important for people to have a voice in politics.
“That’s kind of why I take it so seriously,” she said.
Stephen DeWitt, Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner, said the informational cards were not meant to deceive people.
He said the state of New York only requires that counties announce the state and local elections (excluding some elections, such as the village elections and the school board elections, which are not in the charge of the board.). Leaving the presidential off the cards is something he said he thinks has happened since at least 2003.
“I’ve heard a couple people ask the question and it is a good question,” he said about why the national election isn’t noted and why the card does not clarify that it only references state and local elections. “I know it’s probably confusing for some people and that’s unfortunate.”
He said he’s received several phone calls about the confusion, which has never happened before.
“I’m really not sure why. Maybe people are just taking a little more interest on the election,” DeWitt said.
Keeble said it’s not enough for people to apologize or rely on the media for information about voting.
In a Facebook post online, which garnered more than 50 shares in about a day, she wrote:
“I then explained that some people in my county do not have running water or real floors and many without Internet. After a long hardy debate about the rights and wrongs of the information the card I suggested that as the state they should be sending out a state wide notification in paper about the presidential ones.
The woman I spoke with was very kind and helpful after I began by raising my voice she calmed me down and we really started and by the end she said said she would talk with a big state rep about it and see what could be done because she said I made very good points and agreed that this primary is wicked important. If you live in NY state call the state board and request a paper flyer be sent out with the correct April 19th date! Do it every call will help to push them to do so and to get out the right information.”
“This is why they don’t vote — because it’s so confusing…People who are born and raised in this county should know how to vote,” she said.
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