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General Election: Tuesday, November 6
Polls open on Election Day: 6 am to 9 pm
VOTER GUIDE TO THE 2012 ELECTIONS
Prepared by Dr. Angela G. Narasimhan
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Keuka College
Voters in the U.S. have a difficult task every time they go to the polls: not only do Americans vote more often and for more offices than most other countries in the world, but we also reside in multiple electoral districts at the local, state, and federal level, making it very difficult to keep track of what we are voting for when. To top it off, we may also be asked to vote on local or state issues through referenda, such as school bonds. This amounts to a huge burden on us voters to stay informed, and many scholars argue that the high information cost involved in voting is what causes our relatively low voter turnout rates. This complexity often leaves those of us who do vote confused and overwhelmed at the polls. I have provided the following information to help you inform yourself before the election and navigate the ballot once you’re in the voting booth.
Are you registered? Residents of New York state can check on this website: https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx. If you are registered, it will give you the address of your polling place as well as a list of all of the different districts you will be voting in (see below).
Where is my polling place? You can find your polling place on the Voter Lookup site above, or at the League of Women Voters’ Smart Voter website. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization dedicated to informing voters of all genders, not only women.
Will you be able to vote on November 6th at your home polling place? Many of you will be at Keuka on election day and not able to vote at home. If this is the case, make sure to send your absentee ballot application by October 30th. It can be found here: http://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html.
How can I inform myself before the election? For some, deciding who you will cast your vote for is the easiest part of voting, but for others, the most difficult. I have found several interesting websites that you may want to look at prior to the election to help you decide. And even if you already closely identify with one of the parties, you may want to use the following to see if your specific political views are still in line with that party this election season.
• The Political Party Quiz: Take this quiz to determine which party you most closely identify with – you may be surprised!
• I Side With Quiz: Answer questions on your positions on different specific policies, such as taxes and abortion, to determine which presidential candidate is closest to your views!
• Politify: You can enter basic personal financial information on this website (filing status, income, dependents, etc.) to determine the impact of Obama and Romney’s policies on your after-tax income.
• The Choice 2012: Frontline just aired a documentary providing a detailed background on our two major presidential candidates. You can watch it online at the link.
What will be on my ballot on November 6th? The League of Women Voters’ Smart Voter website should have copies of your county’s ballot up prior to the election, although most are not yet posted. You may want to check back a few days beforehand: http://www.smartvoter.org/. You may also be able to find a sample ballot at your county’s Board of Election’s website; you can find this by searching for “(County Name) Board of Elections” online. Yates County is here, but the sample ballot has not yet been posted as of 10/12, so check back: http://www.yatescounty.org/display_page.asp?pID=74.
What offices will I be voting for? There are several different races being held this year. They are broken down by level below.
• President: we are probably all most aware of this contest. You can expect to see the following candidates on your ballot (source):
DEMOCRATIC: Barack Obama
REPUBLICAN: Mitt Romney
CONSERVATIVE: Mitt Romney
WORKING FAMILIES: Barack Obama
GREEN: Jill Stein
PSL-SOCIALISM AND LIB: Peta Lindsay
LBT-LIBERTARIAN: Gary Johnson
CST-CONSTITUTION: Virgil Goode
• U.S. Senate: one of New York’s two Senate seats, that currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand, is being contested this election. You can expect to see these candidates on your ballot (source):
DEMOCRATIC: Kirsten E. Gillibrand
REPUBLICAN: Wendy Long
CONSERVATIVE: Wendy Long
WORKING FAMILIES: Kirsten E. Gillibrand
INDEPENDENCE: Kirsten E. Gillibrand
GREEN: Colia Clark
LBT-LIBERTARIAN: Chris Edes
CSP-COMMON SENSE: John Mangelli
• Representative in Congress: all members of Congress are up for reelection every two years, so you will be voting for this office in your home congressional district. Your congressional district will be listed when you look yourself up at the NY state voter lookup site: https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.asp. Yates County, for example, is in District 23. Once you know your district, you can find it and a list of candidates from page 9 of this document, or it may be listed on your county ballot site: http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2012/General/Combined_2012_GEN_INT_NoPE.pdf
The NY state voter look up site listed above will also tell you which state senate district and state assembly district you reside in. You will be voting in both contests on November 6th. You can find a list of candidates in the document listed above, or at the following BallotPedia links:
• State Senate
• State Assembly
• You will also see state judicial contests on your ballot, depending on where you live. You can find a voter guide for those contests posted here in the next few weeks: http://www.nycourts.gov/vote/
Depending on where you live, you may also see various offices and issues being decided on at your village or town level. You should be able to find a list of these at your county election website (see above)..
If you are a new voter who has registered by mail, you will be required to show identification when you go to vote for the first time. It is advisable for all new voters to bring identification when voting for the first time.
Acceptable IDs to vote are: