Op-Ed: Make a plan to vote this November

Senator Sean M. Ryan

Originally published in Ken-Ton Bee

Election Day is less than two weeks away. Have you made a plan to vote yet? Midterm elections are often overlooked, but I urge everyone – regardless of your political leanings – to do your civic duty and participate in our democracy during the upcoming election on Nov. 8. As U.S. citizens, we hold the power to choose our representatives and it’s important that we exercise this important right.

Presidential elections get the most coverage, but the elections to determine our local representatives at every level of government are just as important. The right to vote is the core value of our Constitution – the right that all of our other rights are based upon. The laws outlining who may cast a vote have thankfully evolved throughout our journey to create a more perfect union. It has been a centuries long struggle to expand the right of suffrage, and we must always remain vigilant to protect this sacred right.

Here in New York, we have worked hard to ensure voters in our state are able to access several voting options that make it easy to cast a ballot on or before Election Day on Nov. 8.

One way we make voting easily accessible in New York is through early voting. There are 38 early voting locations throughout Erie County. If you are registered to vote in Erie County, you can vote at any of them during the early voting period. All early voting locations will be open from noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6. If you’re planning to vote early, a full list of polling locations and their hours can be found at elections.erie.gov. If you are voting absentee this year, make sure to postmark your completed ballot by Nov. 8.

In New York, we have made great efforts to remove any barriers that prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to vote. Earlier this year, the New York State John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act was signed into law. This landmark legislation protects the rights of all voters, including many who have historically been marginalized. It addressed many of the common barriers that have discouraged or prevented people from voting and created new resources for voters, such as expanded language assistance for those who need it.

In the days leading up to Election Day on Nov. 8, I urge every member of our community to spend some time learning about the candidates running in your district. Whoever you choose to cast your vote for this November, I hope you’ll take my advice and make your voice heard.