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A message from MDC Vice Chair Mici Simonofsky

Mr. Corcoran's quote as presented in the Southern Ulster Times on July 15 presents a perfect opportunity to inform voters about the election process. His words were misleading, inflammatory, and some might say bullyish. They do not show an understanding of the nomination processes for local elections. New York State Election Law is the roadmap that must be followed not only for how and where to vote, but also how candidates are able to appear on the ballot.

Election law directs political committees to choose their method of inviting registered voters, per their declared party affiliation, to nominate their candidates either by caucus or by petitioning. This is when and where YOU, the voter, gets the opportunity to have your voice heard in selecting your candidate.

Traditionally, the Marlborough Democratic Committee (MDC) has had an open caucus, inviting all registered Democrats within the town to meet in a public space to vote for their nominee to be placed on the November ballot. This year presented unique challenges to this process. In 2020, before COVID came into full force, there were changes made in NYS election law. Those changes moved the all too familiar June petitioning deadline for potential candidates to a new and earlier March petitioning deadline. The pandemic left the MDC committee members wondering how they could best present the nominating requirements to their Democratic electorate due to the dire COVID circumstances at that time. It was a real consideration that an open caucus might not even be allowed. As the MDC had to make a timely decision to meet the March deadline, the MDC chose the alternative of nomination by petition this year.

It is very important to let people know that in actuality, the petition process is a much more democratic way of nominating candidates. Why? Because any person who wants to run can carry petitions on his or her behalf following Board of Election requirements. No one is bound to a political committee’s endorsement or process.

On the other hand, a caucus depends on in-person attendance of registered voters. With only ten days of official notice of the meeting date, voters are required to show up in person to nominate and vote for their candidates. The success of the caucus can be predetermined by the handful of people invited and present.

Elections are designed to get people to choose who they want to represent them. Can’t we agree that involvement of hundreds of eligible voters called to participate by signing a petition is more democratic than a caucus where, for example, only 38 of the Conservative party were present?

This means the petition process actually encourages and allows MORE public participation. It requires candidates to work to get public support. The MDC would not have considered the petition process if COVID had not been a threat.

With this new understanding of election law, PLEASE help us invite you to participate in the voting processes. Contact us through our website, our email, our Facebook page or by calling one of the MDC members to make sure we have your accurate email address, cell phone number and mailing address. Tell others how to reach us to answer questions, to get help with voter registration, or how to help us spread the word.

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