GENESEO – SUNY Geneseo students are returning absentee ballots in historic numbers for this year’s Village election on March 15, in which two students are running for Trustee.
According to the Livingston County Board of Elections, 419 absentee ballots have been received from Geneseo addresses, and of these, about 351 are from on-campus addresses.
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“Voter registration is way up,” said Nancy Leven, Republican Commissioner for the Board of Elections. “There are two voting districts in Geneseo with a combined total of about 3,100 registered voters. In district two alone we’ve added about 600 voters since the November election.”
An absentee ballot allows a voter who cannot make it to the polls on March 15 to vote from afar. The Board of Elections is finished mailing ballots for this election, but anyone can request an absentee ballot in person at the Board of Elections office at 6 Court Street in Geneseo from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The election falls right at the start of SUNY Geneseo’s spring break. According to the college’s website, residence halls officially close on March 12 for spring break and do not reopen until March 20.
Greek organizations on campus are mobilizing aggressive voter registration campaigns at Milne Library, with members of fraternities and sororities approaching as many students as possible in the library and explaining how they can register to vote.
Geneseo’s candidates for two Trustee seats are Geneseo resident and nurse Leslie Carson (R), Rochester resident and SUNY Geneseo student Matthew Cook (I), former Chair of the Livingston County Democratic Committee Phil Jones (D), Geneseo resident and SUNY Geneseo college student Mary Rutigliano (I), and incumbent Trustee Bob Wilcox (D).
Wilcox is vocally opposed to students running for political office in the Village.
“I disagree with students serving as trustees because of the fact that it takes a lot of time which I don’t believe students have,” said Wilcox at a Q and A hosted by SUNY Geneseo on Feb. 25. “It also takes a certain maturity and life experience to deal with this position.”
“If you don’t have students at the table, then you can’t have democracy happen in a way that’s going to benefit the community as a whole,” answered Cook. “The fact that we have students here and involved means that they are invested in the community. Our great country was founded because there were people not being represented.”
Jones called on all voters to come out and exercise their right to vote.
“Exercising the the right to vote is a cornerstone of a democratic system,” said Jones. “Voter turnout is pathetic in this country, state, county, town and village. All elections matter. We may not always like our choices and we may not be happy with politicians but it does make a difference who gets elected. This is as true in a village election as it is in a Presidential election. What local government does impacts people’s daily life as much as, if not more, than what happens in Albany or Washington. Just think about when the streets aren’t plowed or the garbage isn’t picked up, etc.”
See the GeneseeSun.com’s own questions and answers with the candidates here.