Since early voting began on Oct. 24, Long Island has been plagued by long lines and crowded polling places.
While the main causes for this voting bottleneck have been an insufficient number of polling sites and record voter turnout, it has been made worse by selfish, poorly informed people voting twice.
I’m talking, of course, about those who cast absentee ballots either by mail or dropping them off and then voted again in person.
While every New Yorker registered to vote has the right to vote in person and void a previously cast absentee ballot, no questions asked, there is no good reason to do so other than changing one’s vote.
I don’t begrudge those who preferred to vote in person and either didn’t request an absentee ballot or chose not to fill one out. However, those who already voted and decided to vote again put unnecessary pressure on our voting system (in the midst of a pandemic, no less).
Some double-voters convinced themselves that the absentee ballots they cast simply “wouldn’t count.” This is unlikely as long as they followed the instructions to properly complete, seal and return their ballots.
Others believed their absentee ballots would be counted, but were unhappy said ballots wouldn’t be added to the running total of votes counted until days after the election. This appears to be a misunderstanding of the possible election night “red mirage.”
Put simply, it’s possible Donald Trump could be ahead when in-person votes are counted on Election Night and then fall behind when absentee votes are counted, aiding him in shattering voters’ confidence in the validity of the vote.
Firstly, if Trump loses, even by a mile and on Election Night, he will still claim fraud and his supporters will still believe him, so I don’t believe this is a valid reason for anyone, even those voting in swing states, not to cast an absentee ballot (or to void a previously cast one, if their state allows it).
Secondly, New York is not a swing state. Trump will be a mile behind here on Election Night and still a mile behind when absentee votes are counted.
Thus, even if one’s goal is to avoid a red mirage, voting in person in New York won’t aid in that goal. (It would impact the running total of the nationwide popular vote, but as we were reminded in 2000 and 2016, the popular vote is, unfortunately, irrelevant in a presidential election.)
I don’t know how widespread double voting was this election cycle and am only writing this letter in response to anecdotes from voters I have seen on social media. (I plan to submit a Freedom of Information Law request to the Nassau County Board of Elections after the results are certified to see what percentage of local voters voided an absentee ballot by voting in person.)
However, I do know that a bad situation was made at least marginally worse by this behavior.
While Election Day (Nov. 3) will have passed by the time many of your readers peruse my letter, I hope those who did vote twice will consider how their actions put themselves, poll workers and their fellow voters at unnecessary risk of contracting COVID-19.
I hope they will also consider how they inconvenienced those waiting on line behind them who hadn’t yet voted and how they may have discouraged voters unable or unwilling to wait in such long lines from voting at all.
Next time, do yourselves and your fellow Long Islanders a favor. Once you’ve successfully voted once, stand back and allow everyone else to cast their ballot.
New Hyde Park