By Braden C. Reese
Image courtesy Derek Koch and AIGA Get Out the Vote
President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The future of the republic is in the hand of the American voter,” and he couldn’t have been more accurate. There is no right more sacred than the vote or role more vital to democracy than that of the voter. By the time you read this article, the New York State Primary Election on Thursday, September 13 will be over, and we will be sailing toward the 2018 General Election on November 6, 2018.
This election will determine, among other things, crucial control of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, both of which are currently under Republican leadership. Passage of President Trump’s agenda depends upon retaining control of both legislative bodies. “The Midterms,” as they’re often called, refer to elections held in the middle of a president’s term in office. They often serve as a check on the chief executive, giving the voting public an opportunity to react – either positively or negatively – to that individual’s tenure in office thus far. Congressional responsibilities include: confirmation of federal judges and Supreme Court Justices, passage of legislation, and beginning of impeachment proceedings.
Thirty-five out of one hundred U.S. Senate seats are “in cycle” (up for election), including the seat of Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the incumbent junior senator from New York. NY’s senior Senator, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, is not up for re-election until 2022. Of these Senate seats up for grabs, twenty-six are currently held by Democrats and nine are currently held by Republicans. Democrats would need to regain two Senate seats to control the upper chamber. According to the Cook Political Report, eight of these seats are toss-ups, meaning the election forecast could go either way. U.S. Senators serve six-year terms.
U.S. House of Representatives:
All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are also up for election. The Cook Political Report shows sixty-seven of these races as competitive. New York’s 19th (Hudson Valley and Catskills regions) and 22nd (Central NY: Utica, Rome, Cortland, Binghamton) congressional districts – with incumbent Republicans John Faso and Claudia Tenney, respectively- are currently toss-ups. The Cook Political Report has also moved the NY-27 (Buffalo-area) congressional district from “solid” to “leaning” Republican after the indictment of GOP Representative Chris Collins for insider trading. Collins is one of New York’s most conservative members of Congress and the first to endorse President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Democrats believe this western NY seat is now in play during the midterms. Additionally, the NY-25 (Monroe County, City of Rochester) congressional district will be voting to fill the currently vacant seat of late Democratic Representative Louise Slaughter. Democrats would need twenty-three more congressional seats to win back the House. Members of Congress serve two-year terms.
STATE & LOCAL
New York State:
Nationally, there are thirty-six gubernatorial races on the ballot in November. In New York State, elections will occur for: governor, lieutenant governor, state comptroller, attorney general, state senate, and state assembly. These elections will determine executive and legislative control of New York State for years to come, as well as investigative and prosecutorial priorities of the state. Should he defeat his primary challengers, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, incumbent Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo will seek re-election in November. In New York’s LGBTQ+ community, Cuomo is generally lauded for his support and signing of the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011. The bipartisan bill amended New York’s Domestic Relations Law to include marriage rights, benefits, and legal protections to NY’s same-sex couples. Should she prevail in her primary, Democratic Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, will also seek re-election in this fall’s general election. Hochul, a Buffalo native, previously served as Erie County Clerk and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (NY-26). In New York, governor and lieutenant governor run separately in the primaries, but are elected by a single joint vote during the general election. The offices of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general are each elected to four year terms.
Elections will also occur for New York State legislature. Sixty-three seats are up for election in the NYS Senate and one hundred fifty seats are up election in the NYS Assembly. Locally, elections will occur for: NYS Senate districts 54, 55, 56, 59, 61, 62 and NYS Assembly districts 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139. In the Rochester area, Assemblyman Harry Bronson of the 138th is notably the first openly gay LGBTQ+ member of the New York State legislature from upstate New York. All NYS Senate and Assembly seats are up every two years. NYS Senators and members of the Assembly serve two-year terms.
Monroe County / City of Rochester:
Local elections will occur for: Family Court (two seats), County Legislator 1st District (one-year term), Rochester City Court Judge, and Rochester School Commissioner (two seats, one-year term). Additional local elections will occur for: Clarkson Town Justice, Parma Town Justice, Parma Town Council (three-year term), Parma Town Council (one-year term), Riga Town Justice, Rush Town Justice, Sweden Town Justice, East Rochester Town Justice (two seats), Fairport Village Mayor, Fairport Village Justice, and Fairport Village Trustee (two seats).
While the Out Alliance and Empty Closet cannot endorse any specific candidates, we do encourage our community members and readers to keep informed about the candidates, their platforms, and their voting records, especially on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Most importantly, no matter your political views or party affiliation, get registered and be sure to always exercise your right to vote!
GENERAL ELECTION: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2018
Voter Registration Deadlines:
- Mail Registration: Postmarked by October 12, 2018; Received by October 17, 2018
- In Person Registration: Received by October 12, 2018
Change of Address Deadline: Received by October 17, 2018
Absentee Ballot Deadlines:
- Mail Absentee Ballot Request: Postmarked by October 30, 2018
- In Person Absentee Ballot Request: November 5, 2018
- Mail Absentee Ballot: November 5, 2018
- In Person Absentee Ballot: November 5, 2018
If you are unsure if you’re a registered voter, check: https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/