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Let’s match the Scots in this year’s voter registration

September 25, 2014
Editorial , Lake Placid News

The spirit of democracy has rarely enjoyed such a victory as it did in Scotland this week. That's not because of what the Scottish people decided - the majority voted to remain in the United Kingdom - but because of how many of them decided.

Scots were so engaged in this decision that 97 percent of eligible voters were registered to vote, and about 85 percent of eligible voters actually voted.

Contrast that with the United States, which considers itself the birthplace of the modern democracy. The Census Bureau shows that in presidential elections, about 70 percent of eligible American voters are registered and about 60 percent of them actually cast ballots.

In midterm congressional elections like the one coming up Nov. 4, the registration rate drops to about 65 percent and only about 45 percent vote.

U.S. elections may not be quite as world-rocking for us as one on whether to form a new nation, but still, they're pretty huge. In a little more than six weeks, we'll decide who will represent us in our national House of Representatives. We'll decide who will be governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller and lawmakers of the great state of New York. We'll decide who will make the decisions for our towns.

People love to hate Congress and our other politicians, but that rings kind of hollow when more than half of eligible voters don't vote.

The more of us who vote, the more legitimate our decisions, the stronger our voice as a people, and the more we can stand up to the rich and powerful who try to control the outcomes.

We can be like Scotland in terms of voter engagement. Let's do so up here in the Adirondack highlands this Election Day.

First, though, let's all make sure our voter registration is up to date. You can't vote if you aren't registered.

If you've moved since the last time you voted, your registration may not be current. Better check it out.

We have a little less than two weeks to do that. The deadline for registration forms to be postmarked or submitted in person is Friday, Oct. 10.

One can register many different ways, but basically it comes down to getting your hands on a registration form, filling it out and submitting it to your county board of elections. You can do this in person at a Department of Motor Vehicles office (including the DMV office in Saranac Lake's Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main St.), the county board of elections office (in Elizabethtown for Essex County) or a wide range of state agency offices. Your town office might be able to help, too, or you can call the state Board of Elections at 1-800-FOR-VOTE.

One can also easily download a registration form online; searching for "new york voter registration form" works.

Mail the form to the following address in Essex County:

-Essex County Board of Elections, 7551 Court St., P.O. Box 217, Elizabethtown, NY 12932.

If you won't be able to make it to the polls Nov. 4, you can vote with an absentee ballot. The deadline to apply for one is Oct. 28. The deadline to submit one is Nov. 3.

Voting is a great privilege and duty, but it requires some preparation. Beyond registration, it requires familiarizing yourself with the candidates and their views. Our two newspapers - the Lake Placid News and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise - are the best places to do that.

If you're not already a subscriber, you may have to decide if it's worth a small investment to be informed. We suggest you vote "yes" and choose to know.



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