Why I Vote

by Billye Jones, Director of Programs

I vote because I can!  I vote every year in elections big and small, and I bring my daughter with me! I am at a unique age, young enough to never have been denied the right to vote as a black woman, but old enough to hear my grandparents and great grandparents tell me about a time they could not vote.  I was taught to never take a right to vote for granted.   

I remember filling out my voter registration form in high school and feeling proud when I could vote for the first time.  I remember waiting in line for the first time.  I remember speaking to my great-grandmother Emma– born in 1899, granddaughter of freed slaves– on my first election day; she was happy for me.  She used to tell me when she looked at me, she saw progress.  

I vote because it is my right as an American, a right that people sacrificed for and, in many cases, died for.  I vote because I want to set an example for my daughter.  I vote because I know my one vote is equal to your one vote.  I vote because I love politics, policy, and elections.  I vote because I want to move this country forward to live up to its potential and promise to be better for all Americans.

I know some of you may read this and feel like voting doesn’t matter or that somebody will suppress your vote.  Vote anyway!   Your vote does count, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!  This year like every other year, I will go to the polls. I will remember that I am my ancestor’s wildest dreams, and I stand on their shoulders.  I vote because they couldn’t.

How you can vote in New York:

October 9: The last day to register to vote. You can download a form online and mail it in, or you can fill one out in person. 

Important information for survivors: 

N.Y. Election Law (5-508) allows victims of domestic violence who obtain a court order from NY Supreme Court, Family Court or County Court in the county where they are registered to have their voter registration record kept separate and apart from other registration records and not be made available for inspection or copying by the public or any other person, except election officials acting within the course and scope of their official duties. Under a separate section of the law (11-306), you can also be excused from going to your polling place to vote and get a special ballot. For further information, you should contact your local board of elections for their confidential registration and special ballot procedures.

October 27: The deadline to request an absentee ballot online or by mail. In New York, you can request absentee ballots for a number of reasons, including illness or disability. This year, the risk of spreading or contracting the coronavirus qualifies as a temporary illness, so most voters in the state should be able to get an absentee ballot.

November 2: This is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot in person.

October 24: Early voting opens and remains open until November 1. Click here to learn about early voting in New York City. 

November 3: Election Day!

Thank you to the New York Times for compiling this information.

If you have questions about voter registration or voting as a survivor, please reach out to Day One by calling 1-800-214-4150.

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