Today’s the day: Register to vote

NYSUT-endorsed candidate for NYS Senate Chris Eachus poses with Melissa Servant, a NYSUT PAC Coordinator and Wallkill TA member. Photo provided.

The first presidential debate for the 2016 presidential election is now fodder for workplace hallways, social media, college debates, fact checkers and café conversations. The words that will matter the most, however, are the names on the ballot on Nov. 8. Today is National Voter Registration Day.

Hundreds of events are taking place in libraries, community centers, and with civic groups. Simply put your zip code in to find one near you. #VoterRegistrationDay.

The deadline for registering to vote in the November election, whether registration is online, in person and by mail, is Oct. 14 in New York.

A League of Women Voters tool is also available on the sidebar at the website of the Coalition for Labor Union Women, the only national women’s union. With this tool, you can put in an address and find information about polling locations, checking voter registration status how to register to vote.

NYSUT has launched “Pledge to Vote” with the thrust of getting people to vote and realize what is at stake.

Members of one local union, Wallkill Teachers Association, were able to talk to people and get them to pledge to vote while staffing a table at a recent regional community event, “Plattekill Day,” in Ulster County.

High school math teacher Melissa Servant of the 266-member WTA, who serves as NYSUT political action coordinator for the region, rented space at the event, which included a car show, mime dancing, kids groups, and many civic and community group informational booths.

“We had a table set up and asked people to take the pledge to vote. They will get a follow-up postcard in the mail,” she explained.

NYSUT- endorsed candidate Chris Eachus, who is running for State Senate, was also at the fair and stopped by for a “Pledge to Vote” photo.  The local union, led by president Richard Shand, did not endorse a choice for president of the United States at the event, but did show its support for NYSUT-backed candidate Zephyr Teachout, who is running for U.S. representative, 19th District.

CLUW, which represents union women from a wide range of professions, reports that 53 percent of voters in the 2012 elections were women, “which means that women determined the outcome of the presidential election.”

CLUW emphasizes how crucial it is to register unregistered women “who understand the needs of working families.”

To further its involvement with the election, NYSUT has staff members signing up to volunteer to go New Hampshire for stints of nine-14 days to talk with voters.

Buses will also be sent on Oct. 15 from United Federation of Teachers in the New York City area, and from Long Island, Syracuse, Binghamton and Buffalo, all headed to Pennsylvania. On October 22, a bus will leave NYSUT headquarters to go to New Hampshire, where volunteers — members and staff — will go door-to-door to meet with voters.

The Pledge to Vote campaign reminds people that, “At a time when the richest, most powerful corporate special interests in the nation have joined forces to destroy unions, to privatize public services for their own profit, and to disenfranchise and disempower working people for their own gain, VOTING is our best chance to fight back to defend our rights, our profession and our future.”

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