Hi, everyone. I’m Katelyn Kriesel, one of the Town Councilors here in the Town of Manlius. I wanted to provide some data and background information for everyone, since I know there is a lot of interest in the Special Election vote and what was happening behind the scenes.
In the Town of Manlius, we have 33,712 people as of the 2020 census. Of those 33,712 people, 25,030 are registered voters, as of the Board of Elections in June, 2023.
In the Special Election, 2,995 people voted, including absentees and affidavits. That is 12% of registered voters. It is 33% of normal turnout.
2,418 of those people voted in person.
The result of the vote was decisive, with 70% of voters rejecting the ward proposal and only 30% in favor. The people of Manlius have made it clear that they are not in support of dividing up the Town.
In a normal General Election, we have ten days of early voting at polling places scattered around the county. On Election Day, in the Town of Manlius, we have ten polling places.
To have 33% of normal turnout in a Special Election, on a Saturday, in September, with one polling place, and only a few weeks to get the word out, is, without a doubt, incredible. To have people willing to stand in line for two hours to cast their ballot and make their voice heard? It actually makes me emotional.
We had more people show up to vote in one day than any early voting polling location in the County has ever had TOTAL over the course of TEN DAYS!
The Town of Manlius had to pay for and run this election. This hasn’t happened in decades! Our Town Clerk, Allison Weber, and all of our clerks, they did a tremendous job. It cost the Town around $7,000 for this polling location. We simply did not have money in the budget to add additional polling locations and we did not have the staff, though, of course, we wish we did.
As many people are saying, if the Republican Committee had waited to turn in their petition, this could have been on the ballot in the General Election in November. And then 9,000 people could have had their voices heard instead of 3,000.
The Republican Committee turned in their petition in July. The Special Election had to be scheduled within 60-75 days of the receipt of that petition, according to New York State law. (You can read our resolution with all the details here: https://www.townofmanlius.org/Agend…/ViewFile/Item/4204…).
If that petition had been received within 60-75 days of the General Election in November, then it would have been on the ballot in the General Election. This is all according to New York State Law.
“If such a petition be filed in the office of the town clerk not less than sixty days, nor more than seventy-five days, prior to a biennial town election, the proposition shall be submitted at such biennial election. If a petition be presented at any other time, a special election shall be called to be held not less than sixty days, nor more than seventy-five days after the filing of such petition.”
If the Republican Committee had turned in their petition anywhere between August 23rd September 7th, this would have gone on the ballot in November. They made a decision to force a Special Election, which suppressed voter turnout, cost the taxpayers money, caused confusion and stress among thousands of people in the community, and took countless hours from staff at Manlius Town Hall.
Because they turned in the petition in July, we had to schedule the Special Election between the dates of September 12 – September 27. That is such a quick turnaround time for the staff at Town Hall! Our Town Supervisor, John Deer, and Allison Weber had to become experts on Special Election law instantly. To learn and understand the requirements, get the Special Election scheduled, get the word out about it, and then actually manage the election itself? That is a lot to pull off! We should all be thanking our Town officials and the staff at Town Hall for all of their hard work.
We decided on a Saturday election because that is the day that gets the highest turnout during Early Voting, and wanted to get as many people to the polls as possible. And also, because this is a Special Election, no one is entitled to time off to vote like you are in a General Election. If we scheduled this for a Tuesday, anyone who was at work the whole day would not have been able to vote.
I understand that many people are frustrated that they didn’t get to vote. I am frustrated too. Everyone in the United States deserves to have their voices heard. The strategy of forcing a Special Election is one used to suppress turnout, and that is what happened. The Town did everything we could to get everyone through the line as quickly as possible, but our hands were tied.
If you could not stand in the line or if you could not find a place to park to vote, please accept my sincerest apologies. I am so sorry. If you know someone who this happened to, please extend my apologies to them.
All of that being said, thank you. Thank you for voting. Thank you for caring about your community and for being so passionate about democracy and local government. Thank you for standing up for voter rights and for the integrity of our elections. I am just so moved
If you would like to get more involved in your local government or in helping with Town elections, please email me at email@example.com or email Prerna Deer, the Manlius Democrats Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org! There are so many places you can plug in.
Maybe we could get more of those 25,000 registered voters to the polls! Or maybe we could register more of our 33,000 residents! Let me know how you want to help.