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2019 GENERAL ELECTION & VOTER REGISTRATION INFO: National Voter Registration Day, September 24th

As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu

May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah (God) Be Upon You

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet."

~ Abraham Lincoln

The time is NOW! We are a little less than a week away until National Voter Registration Day! In Southeast Queens, New York City and communities all over the nation no matter where one lives-- for those working with the South East Queens Muslim Collective (SEQMC) and many others engaged within their own civic organization--- everyday is VOTER REGISTRATION day! We are a little more than three weeks away from the last day to register to vote in New York State/City (October 11); we are getting closer to 50 days from the national general election date of Tuesday, November 5, 2019. In a little more than a year, we will be in the election of our lives as it relates to the future of America and perhaps, the world concerning issues like emergency global warming and/or climate change, foreign relations policies that reflect democratic principles; understanding who is or can become an American and whether a three-branch government will continue to serve as the foundation of this nation to represent the will of the majority of the American people. In this relatively short timeline, we must pay close attention to the direction the presidential candidates are expressing as to where the America they would lead would take us. We must build coalitions that will further the very hard work necessary to assist the political education and registration of young people so they can participate in their future like they did in 2008 when our votes were for "hope and change." It appears more and more with each passing day that the democracy many have worked hard towards expanding to be inclusive and open has become drastically diminished since January 20, 2017. As a nation, it seems we are at serious risks to implode internally. Externally, people who have admired or thought well of the United States are asking "what is happening to America?" Again, the people must not take anything for granted! There is much to do that will necessarily require the activism of everyone who wants a vital America that embraces inclusion and does not lock people out; that will not lock people up for expressing the values upon which it is stated this nation was founded.

Since 2012, National Voter Registration Day has been held on the fourth Tuesday in the month of September. It's a day in which hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers in numerous organizations, strive to connect with and register as many people as possible to become eligible voters. Every year millions of Americans find themselves unable to vote on Election Day because they missed a registration deadline, didn’t update their registration, or weren’t sure how to register to vote. Too many, some also argue (this writer among them) aren't paying attention to the elections occurring in their localities and/or don't connect the political process to the delivery of necessary daily public services like transportation and sanitation; the quality of education in one's community and how public safety and general human services are delivered, or not. Too many also remain unregistered because they think that their "vote does not matter." SEQMC members heard this repeatedly while conducting voter registration in 2016 through this past summer. Some stated that it "didn't matter who was elected; it wouldn't change anything." After the election of Trump and the almost obscene magnitude of swirling chaotic changes that have occurred in the last two and a half years affecting the majority of Americans negatively-- anyone paying attention (and how could you not with the number of daily Trump administration fumbles and unprecedented "policies-by-tweet" exhausting the average individual) might want to consider a change of mind about the value of one's vote. If you or someone you know thinks voting doesn't matter, we ask-- almost beg you to think about it again! Voting has consequences; not voting has consequences, too.

As one day that nationally recognizes the importance of voting will soon pass, SEQMC would like to apprise you of some upcoming voter and election information for the remainder of 2019.

Here are some upfront dates to be aware of for the next few weeks general election date of heading into the November 5, 2019 general election (see Board of Elections info here) and some directions as to how to register to vote or change a registration prior to impending deadlines:

How is one determined eligible to vote so that the registration process can be completed in time to vote this year?

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE TO VOTE?

In order to be eligible to vote in the State of New York (and New York City), the following must apply and be met by the voter registration deadline to vote in this year's election in November:

  • you must be a U.S. Citizen;

  • you must be 18 years old by the date of the election;

  • you must not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction (waivers may apply dependent upon the circumstances of the conviction while many formerly incarcerated individuals are eligible to vote; check your situation if still on parole!

  • you must not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

REGISTERING TO VOTE:

You need to complete the voter registration form.

A fillable .pdf voter registration form can be obtained by accessing it here; fill it out; download and print it.

Follow the instructions and be sure to complete EVERY item. In order to vote in primary elections, please select a party.

Be sure to sign it! Close it with some tape so that the Board of Election's address is on the outside. Place a stamp on it and mail it by no later than October 11th.

REGISTERING TO VOTE ONLINE:

You can use the DMV Electronic Voter Registration Application to register to vote or to update the information you have on file with the New York State Board of Elections.

Updated information could include providing your County or City Board of Elections with your new name, new address, or changing a party enrollment. The DMV forwards completed applications to the appropriate County or City Board of Elections for approval and processing.

You will need to to enter the following via their secure website form:

  • NYS Driver License, Permit or Non-Driver ID

  • Social Security Number

IS YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION STILL ACTIVE?

To check your voter registration to ensure it is active and up-to-date, please use VOTER LOOKUP (use this link).

If you haven't voted in the last couple of years or more, given that there have been voter registration issues and snafus in New York City going back a few years and recently, it is recommended that you check to confirm that your registration still exist and that the polling location you are assigned to vote in i.e., your district, has not changed. Better to CHECK IT than to REGRET it!

DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION?

If you have been registered before, has something changed that requires your registration to be updated?

Does any of the following apply?

  • your political party preference has changed

  • your name has changed

  • your residence address has changed

  • you have moved to New York from another state

If the answer is yes, you will need to UPDATE your registration.

  • If the update to your registration is returned by mail, the registration form (see how to download and print it above) must be postmarked at least 25 days prior to the election. The form must then be received by election officials at least 20 days before the election. A registration done in person must be completed at least 25 days prior to the election, as well. October 11th is 25 days prior to the November 5, 2019 election day!

LAST DAY TO REGISTER: October 11, 2019 to vote in the General Election

Registration applications must be delivered in person to the New York City Board of Elections or mailed with an October 11 postmark (it must be received by October 16 to be processed).

October 29 is the last day for voters to postmark an application to receive an absentee ballot, while November 4 is the last day that voters can apply in person for an absentee ballot.

WHAT IF YOU WILL NOT BE IN TOWN OR HAVE OTHER REASONS WHY YOU CANNOT GO TO THE POLLING LOCATION FOR EARLY VOTING OR ON NOVEMBER 5th?

A voter in New York is eligible to vote absentee in an election for any of the following reasons:

  1. Absence from the county on Election Day (November 5, 2019)

  2. Illness or disability

  3. Patient care at a Veteran's Administration hospital

  4. Incarceration for offenses other than felonies or awaiting grand jury action

Absentee ballot applications must be mailed to the county board of elections no later than the seventh day before the election. Alternatively, applications delivered in person must be received no later than the day before the election. A voter may also request an absentee ballot by sending a letter to the county board of election. The letter must be received by the county board no earlier than 30 days and no later than seven days before the election. An application form will be mailed with the absentee ballot. The application form must be completed and returned with the ballot.

If sent by mail, a returned ballot must be postmarked by the day before the election (NOVEMBER 4) and received no later than the seventh day (NOVEMBER 12) after the election. If submitted in person, the ballot must be received by close of polls on Election Day. Voters can also have their absentee ballot delivered by another person to the BOE by election day.

EARLY VOTING

There will be nine (9) days of EARLY VOTING implemented for the first time in 2019 in addition to Election Day, November 5, 2019.

From October 26 to November 3, polling sites will open for varying hours across the five boroughs. There are 61 sites in total – 18 in Brooklyn, 14 in Queens, 11 in the Bronx, 9 each in Manhattan and Staten Island. (There will be no early voting on November 4, the day before Election Day.)

To find out locations, please use this link. You MUST vote (early voting) at the site that is designated for you.

NEW YORK CITY CHARTER REVISION PROPOSALS

New York City residents will be voting on five proposed Charter Commission revisions that are under consideration for addition to the New York City Constitution. Five overarching questions will involve 19 proposals in all that cover issues such as elections and redistricting, government ethics, police accountability, the city budget, and land use policy. Voters will vote YES or No on each of the five items. For more information, please use this link and this link.

OTHER VOTING/ELECTION CHANGES

In New York State, the election calendar experienced some changes in 2019 as a result of legislation signed by Governor Cuomo this year. In January 2019, the New York State Legislature consolidated local, state, and federal primary dates. The law went into effect during the 2019 election cycle and changed the statewide primary date to June instead of September. No primary this September. Next year's congressional primaries will be in June, 2020.

WHO IS ON THE BALLOT (In Queens and New York City)?

QUEENS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY Election

Melinda Katz, Democratic Party Nominee vs. Joe Murray, Democratic candidate who received a special certificate allowing him to be on the ballot; former Attorney & NYPD Officer

NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC ADVOCATE Election

Jumaane Williams (D), current Public Advocate vs. City Council Member Joe Borelli (R, Staten Island)

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”

~ Larry J. Sabato

Some historical points about voting since 2008 are expressed below. These follow all the information you need to know to be civically engaged in voting this year. If we ever needed to vote (like we did last year during the midterm election), we need to vote in 2019, 2020 and in every election in the future. The shape of politics and voting may have changed significantly given the divisive politics of the present system and office holders. We need to be observant and as civically engaged as our schedules allow for.

Before addressing some present political circumstances that some refer to as "political whiplash," can we reflect somewhat on the 2012 general election that was a presidential election year with incumbent (already in office) President Barack Obama, a Democratic candidate seeking re-election? We present this look back in history because the 2020 Presidential election will also have an incumbent in the election seeking a second term: Trump.

In 2012 when President Obama was re-elected, voting rates for non-Hispanic blacks i.e., African-Americans, individuals from the Caribbean or otherwise identifying as "black" at 66.6 percent (voting for close to two out of three individuals of this race) were higher than non-Hispanic whites i.e., individuals who are considered "white" in the US include Americans who are descendants from any of the indigenous peoples of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, or in census statistics, those who self-report as white based on having majority-white ancestry at 64.1 percent for the first time since 1964 when data was first collected. Note that this date is not too long before the enactment of the very important Voting Rights Act of 1965. If you need to read that again-- in 2012 more people of color voted in the Presidential election (general) than at any time prior to that year in recorded history. On the first National Voter Registration Day in 2012, thousands of Americans were unified in a common purpose: a day of civic unity. The day was, and remains to be an opportunity to set aside differences and celebrate democracy and the rights and opportunities we all share as Americans. We registered to vote and we followed through by going to the polls to vote!

After 2008 and through 2012, the share of white voters who had identified as Democrats had declined five points, while the share who identified as independent had increased four points. There had been a slight two-point increase in registered voters identifying as Republican. Race begins to look like more of a factor, does it not? In a democracy, citizens get to vote for whom they please. One's civic duty is to vote. In order to vote, one needs to be registered. In order to vote in a primary election, one has to be registered in a party. When the pen or whatever marker is in one's hand to make a selection before that ballot is scanned and counted, it is rational to think that the citizens of the nation will think about what will be good for the nation overall? It is rational and logical to think that a vote cast is a vote counted, is it not? In 2019, after all that has been heard about Russian influence in the 2018 election and other allegations that have since surfaced about the Trump campaign in the 2016 election-- can we be confident the processing of votes as they were cast will not be tampered with? The jury may still be out on that! Nonetheless, we cannot swerve from our civic duty to register and to vote responsibly! Too many people sacrificed everything in order for the right to vote to be available to everyone-- especially to people of color in the United States of America.

It's not just race, as important as race is especially now since Trump has made it a penchant to attack African-American leaders. Albeit calculated that Trump will need some portion of the African-American vote to win next year in 2020 he speaks to the same voters all of the time. Voting rates have also varied historically according to age. Older Americans generally vote at higher rates than younger Americans. In 2016, this was once again the case, as citizens 65 years and older reported higher turnout (70.9 percent) than 45- to 64-year-olds (66.6 percent), 30- to 44-year-olds (58.7 percent) and 18- to 29-year-olds (46.1 percent). However, in 2016, young voters ages 18 to 29 were the only age group to report increased turnout compared to 2012, with a reported turnout increase of 1.1 percent.

What would be great this National Voter Registration Day and in the days leading up to October 11th (the last day to register to vote) would be a HUGE INCREASE in the registration of individuals who are 18 to 44 years of age!!! If sixty years of age is the new forty, then is forty the new twenty? We need to increase the percentage of voters in these two groups to get closer to 65 to 70%.

Truth is, in today's world with the threat of computer hacking, changed votes in no-audit trail scan voting machines-- any error in calculation by fault or intentionally is too much to risk a return to office of the current office holder. Both the democrats and the republicans were busy with voter drives in 2016. Per statistical data from Pew Research, overall between the years of 1992 and 2016, 48% of all registered voters identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic compared with 44% who identified as Republican or leaned toward the GOP as their party. The closest we can get to current figures dates back to July 2018 before the midterm election. At that time there were more than 12 million more registered Democrats than there were Republicans. What happened in the 2018 elections has been called a "blue wave." The Democrats took back the majority leadership of the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi became the highest elected woman in national leadership.

However, the campaign for the 2016 Presidential election that had started in the early months of 2015 was encroached upon by the unconventional as well as for many, the morally offensive and divisive political campaign of the current office holder. Trump's attacks against "Mexicans" and other groups of individuals who immigrated to the United States were insensitive, insulting and incited some Americans about whom it has been alleged maintain some resentment for the US having sustained an African American President (Obama) in office for two terms. It should not be forgotten that the first two years of Obama's administration were spent rescuing the American economy and undeserving financial institutions (some of which contributed to the costly and significant decline of economy) from the "great recession," so deemed by the Federal Reserve that it claims had started in late 2007 under George Bush. It was full blown by the 2008 November presidential election. With all of the intricate processes involved in trying to turn the economy around, the shorter duration between Obama's 2008 election and the 2010 midterm cast the negativity of high unemployment that had yet to turn around as well as the huge default of mortgages that decimated the equity (savings) many within the African-American community (and others not considered within the "wealth class") was suffered by tens of thousands of people. The result of which, in 2010, was what some have described as "voter backlash." Democrats were "shellacked," a term used by President Obama in describing the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections where Democrats, who had held a majority in the House of Representatives and the US Senate from the 2008 election but lost the Senate in the 2010 midterm. The Affordable Care Act, signed in 2009, also referred to as "Obama Care," was a major success of the Obama presidency and continues to be so having avoided numerous challenges for it to be repealed. The plans and plots of the GOP, that from the beginning were to not offer any assistance to the Obama administration, were somewhat thwarted.

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.”

~ George Jean Nathan

After the stunning Electoral College selection of Donald Trump in 2016 as the 45th President of the United States, a Democrat turned Republican, boastful self-promoting businessman who never served a day in elected office or volunteered a public service -- registered voters will again choose between an incumbent President (Trump; if he becomes the nominee in a party that kow-tows to everything he wants) against the Democratic party nominee seeking to return the office of the presidency to some semblance of normal. Trump is obsessed with 1) attention for himself 2) money and 3) destroying anything linked to the Obama presidency. It has become obvious to most Americans that anything Obama established during his tenure as President is being dismantled by the malicious and vindictive actions of the Trump administration and a stagnant Senate chamber that is not allowing legislation to come to vote so that some of the good policies from the Obama era that are up for renewal can become discontinued. Anything else is being repealed. Can it be believed that the Trump administration will repeal Clean Water regulations that were a major achievement of the Obama administration? Talking about "draining the swamp," this is dirtying the water.

2020 won't just be BIG for its Presidential election, it will be BIG for the US Census and for Americans overall. We will need to participate in both efforts next year, insha'Allah (God Willing).

SEQMC Board Member Sr. Najeeullah at National Night Out 2019 at Baisley Pond Park

distributing 2020 Census information to community residents.

Just a few months ago this year, expectations for next year's census overcame a major hurdle that was expected to negatively impact the participation of residents in the United States. Trump wanted to include and thus provoke implications that a "citizenship" question on the census form could have on the number of respondents to the census. The Supreme Court of the United Stated (SCOTUS) sided with most of the legal establishment of the nation in declaring that adding the citizenship question would have been detrimental to the intended purpose of the census. The Court asked for clarification that the Trump administration acknowledged was not possible to achieve with a looming census print deadline. The decennial (every 10 year) census, as outlined in the US Constitution, is to include every "resident" present in the US-- which has nothing to do with citizenship. However, the US Census' Current Population Survey has gathered citizenship data since 1978. No one before Trump thought of using it for nefarious purposes like separating families or deporting residents.

Much has changed since 2016. Trump's selection brought about the onset of a horrendous period in American history. We can look back at data from the 2016 election through population surveys that indicate that 61.4 percent of the citizen voting-age population reported voting, a number that is close to the 61.8 percent who reported voting in 2012. These totals represent that less than two out of three individuals who could have voted went to the polls and successfully cast their votes in two consecutive presidential elections. The total also represents that more than a third of the nations' population did not vote. It is really more like three out of five people voted in the 2016 Presidential election.

Voting rates have historically varied by race and Hispanic origin. In 2016, turnout increased to 65.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites, but decreased to 59.6 percent for non-Hispanic blacks. Repeating what happened in 2016: fewer African Americans and people of color including Hispanics (of color) did not successfully vote as those who did in 2012. With Hillary Clinton, the nearly coronated Democratic nominee over a small field of candidates that included a surging yet denied contender Bernie Sanders-- some African Americans (among others) stayed home instead of voting. It is arguable whether some who decided not to vote were discouraged by the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton; or showed up and were disenfranchised by some aspect of the voting process e.g., long lines, broken machines and missing registration at polling locations. Some did the anti-vote and switched from voting democratic and voted republican that year-- or from what is now known of Russian hacking and manipulation of social media (and the tacit quiet of the major media) who knows if the stories of changed ballots in several states around the country actually happened or not? It is known that Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than Trump. Beaten by Clinton's popular vote, Trump doesn't let anyone forget he's president. "Can you believe it," he still asks from time to time. Out of 31 states (plus D.C.) in which there is a party designation, 40% of all voters in party registration states are Democrats, 29% are Republicans, and 28% are independents. In 19 states (plus D.C.) there are more registered Democrats; in the remaining 12 there are more registered Republicans. Something went horribly wrong in the 2016 election. It wasn't enthusiam for Trump.

All things happen by the permission of Allah (Highly Glorified is He). Some of the ugliness of America has been uncovered over the last few years. Rather, some might say the "truth" of this nations' past was opened and its wounds are bleeding right now. It's a nasty sore that need not continue to spread. Yet, with four-more years of Trump, the nation might bleed out.

“Too many people fought too hard to make sure all citizens of all colors, races, ethnicities, genders, and abilities can vote to think that not voting somehow sends a message.”

~ Luis Gutierrez

It has been a privilege to share current, up-to-date information to help all eligible individuals become registered to vote between now and October 11th. We are hoping that that you will share this blog with others and they will share it with others, etc. If we each send it to five individuals and/or to any social media networks about which we are associated, we will have each made a contribution to the efforts undertaken on National Voter Registration Day on September 24th. But, please do not stop there! If you'd like to join the efforts of the South East Queens Muslim Collective related to voter registration and providing information regarding the 2020 Census, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please do so via an email to: seqmc1@gmail.com or please use the Contact Us form within this website. We can also be reached by telephone at 718-663-4644.

May Allah (swt) continue to reward our good endeavors.

Registering to

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