What to Expect on the Ballot in September

voterstickerVoting can be pretty scary, especially at the local level. Many residents don’t fully understand the various roles of government and it can be difficult to remember the candidates and their stances while still going through the hubbub of daily life.

I have no doubt it’s what factors into the low voter turnout rate locally. In 2014, just about 33-35 percent of the region voted. CityLab suggests this is about average.

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So OM is going to break down what to expect so you can head to the voter booth confident.

What is it?

Primary elections decide which candidates will represent the party at the general election later in the fall. So you know how there are multiple candidates running for mayor and many of them are Democratic candidates? Instead of all being on the ballot in November, they go against each other in an earlier race.

When is it?

September 12th. Polls are open noon to 9 p.m.

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What should I do?

Some people won’t have to do anything because there’s only one candidate vying for their party’s nomination. For example, green party members’ only choice is Alex White.

New York has closed primaries which means only voters of that party can vote for the candidates. Republican? You can’t decide who represents the local Democratic party. The thinking is that voters would sabotage other parties’ races and set up candidates easily defeated.

So on September 12th, local Democratic voters will be the busy ones. If you’re not sure of your party affiliation, head to the Monroe County Board of Elections and check your voter registration status.

So what’s on the ballot?

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To take all of the guesswork out of this, example ballots are actually posted online. So for city voters, here’s what to expect:

  1. Mayor: Incumbent Lovely Warren, County Legislator and former Chief of Rochester Police James Sheppard, and former news reporter Rachel Barnhart are all vying to represent the Democratic Party in November. You may have noticed a lot more lawn signs for the candidates. That’s because unlike some other races, it will all end for two of them in early September. The chosen candidate will then go up against Green Party’s Alex White and Republican Tony Micciche in November on the general ballot.
  2. City Council: Residents will be choosing five names for the at-large seats on City Council. Over a dozen people are running for five seats and there have been some standout candidates this year that could upset some seats.
  3. School commissioner. If you don’t even know what a school commissioner is, don’t worry you’re definitely not alone. The Rochester School Board is made up of these school commissioners and three seats are currently up for grabs meaning some incumbents are up for re-election. The Board is responsible for major decisions affecting Rochester students.

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