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Stay Safe During COVID And Don’t Forget To Vote

As COVID numbers start to surge in our county, it’s important to remember that older adults with and without underlying health conditions are the most at risk for severe consequences and death from this disease. We have already had 10 deaths in our county and all of these people were over the age of 60. In fact COVID-19 has become the third leading cause of death in the US in 2020 after heart disease and cancer. That is something that cannot be down played or disputed.

This means we all need to do everything we can to avoid getting COVID-19 for our own health and so that we don’t pass it on to the older people in our lives. It has been 6 months of masking, sanitizing and social distancing and I know we are all getting tired but I think we are all strong enough to make it another 6 months or longer until a vaccine can become widely available. Take this opportunity to reconnect with family, learn a new technology (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom), and return to the quiet solitary arts of sewing, knitting, and painting.

If you do choose to socialize keep your circles of contacts small and talk to your friends about doing the same. My mom has a great network of friends but she has been only getting together with one friend during the pandemic. She has resumed her garden club meetings but they meet in an outdoor pavilion with everyone masking and where they can sit socially distant. My Zonta club is doing the same but using an outdoor venue for in-person and Zoom for those who don’t feel comfortable attending. Those of us on zoom had no trouble hearing or being heard, but I confess it was hard to tell who was who with masks on. As senior groups start to resume some activities, Office for the Aging and DOH have been available to help guide groups in resuming activities in the safest way possible. So do not hesitate to call for advice, we are happy to help.

COVID 19 has brought about a lot of change in a very short period of time. Those changes in life and business continue to evolve as time goes on, as we learn more about the disease, or new outbreaks occur.

One concern emerging lately is how to ensure people can exercise their right to vote as well as the integrity of our election process. Let me assure you that the Chautauqua County Board of Elections is doing everything they can to ensure your safety if you choose to vote in-person on Election Day AND they have several other options for you to vote early in person or by absentee ballot so that everyone has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

Registering to Vote: In order to vote in the Presidential Election on Tuesday November 3, you must be registered to vote at your current address. There are two ways to register. You can print a form in Spanish or English off the Board of Election (BOE) Website, https://chqgov.com/board-of-elections , complete, sign and mail it to the BOE by the October 9 deadline. You can call the BOE at (716) 753-4580 or stop at the BOE in Mayville and request an application. You can also go to NYS Department of Motor Vehicles Voter Registration portal and register online if you have a valid driver’s license, permit, or non-driver ID from NYS. The BOE website listed above has a link to the portal. Once you have confirmation that you are registered, you can vote!

Absentee Voting: This year a ballot by mail is as easy as requesting on-line through the BOE website or calling the Board of Elections directly and they will mail you a ballot. You fill it out and mail it back. For people who have difficulty getting to the polls, live in a nursing home, or have another disability which makes it difficult to vote at the polling place on election day you may sign up for permanent physically unable to go to the polls ballot delivery. Once you apply for this option, you will be automatically sent your ballot anytime there is an election. There are more than 1,500 county voters on the permanent absentee mailing program, which allows voters to receive a ballot automatically for the rest of their lives, as long as they don’t move. These ballots will be in the mail on Sept. 18.

Early Voting: You don’t have to wait until Election Day to cast your ballot. Starting Saturday October 24 through Sunday November 1, registered voters can cast their ballot at the Board of Elections in the Hall Clothier Building 7 North Erie Street in Mayville between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30 Monday through Friday. Additional early voting sites will open at the Chautauqua Mall and at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds, visit the BOE website and watch the local newspapers for the hours at these additional sites. This is a great option for people who will be traveling on Election Day and want to cast their ballot in person.

Election Day: Whether voting early in-person or voting in-person on Election Day, the Chautauqua County Board of Elections wants you to know that they have worked very closely with NYS, the County Executive, and our own Department of Health to ensure that all polling sites are following COVID-19 protocols to ensure your safety. Masks and sanitizer will be on hand as well as markings to ensure social distancing. On this 100th anniversary of the 19 amendment, I hope everyone will reflect on the struggles that woman and people of color waged in this country to gain this precious right so that their voice might be heard in our Democracy. It is a precious right but one too often taken for granted in the United States and it is a power that is still not available to many people around the world. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! All you have to do is Vote! For more information on anything in this article contact the Chautauqua County BOE or our NY Connect Helpline at (716)753-4582.

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