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Are You Registered To Vote? Why These Advocates Hope You Will By Friday's Deadline

A woman holds an absentee ballot in Onondaga County
File photo

With the voter registration deadline fast approach, local advocates are stressing the importance of casting a ballot in the non-presidential election this November.

This year’s ballot is packed with a mayoral race in Syracuse, dozens of Onondaga County officials up for election, and five amendments to consider on the New York State Constitution. However, Joan Durant, Syracuse voter service director for the League of Women Voters said it is a struggle to generate turnout in these off-year elections.

“Unfortunately, what we find is that in local elections people just don’t bother. They don’t see any importance in them,” said Durant, also a member of Onondaga Votes.

These groups work to register voters, encourage turnout, and educate residents about the importance of their local elections.

“The president — yes, it affects us. The state — yes, it affects us. But day-to-day we are so affected by our local elections, and it’s important that we make decisions, and that we’re educated on it,” Durant said.

Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner Michelle Sardo said young voters are least likely to vote when a presidential race isn’t on the ballot.

“You’re going to find the older generations voting in local elections because they know voting in local elections is extremely important,” Sardo said. “The younger generation sees they want to vote in the Congressional, the federal, the presidential elections, the Senate elections — they don’t understand what the local elections can do for voters and residents of the county and of New York State,” she said.

Durant said voters should invest the time to learn about the lengthy list of local candidates on their ballots.

“There’s a choice to be made, and we need to make it with our thoughts on who would be best to serve in that position,” she said.

Durante said the League of Women Voters is publishing a local elections guide later this month to help Syracuse voters. The group is also going door-to-door to drive interest.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 8. Election Day is Nov 2. Registration forms can be found online or picked up at post offices, local public libraries, or the local clerk’s office.