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Column: Leslie Danks Burke
Leslie Danks Burke has been running for New York State Senate in the 58th district, which includes Schuyler, Chemung, Steuben and Yates counties, and part of Tompkins. Her office is at 700 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen.
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 5, 2020 -- Americans are not known for our patience. We like fast food, grocery story express lines, EZ Pass, and election results on Election Night. Yet here we are, a few days after the election, frustrated because we do not know who the next president and vice-president will be.
I am also waiting, through gritted teeth, for the results of my own race. About 34,000 absentee ballots -- one quarter of all the ballots cast, one out of every four people who chose to exercise their great responsibility to be a part of We the People who hold our leaders accountable -- all those votes remain uncounted in the Southern Tier’s 58th district.
Our local Boards of Elections will not start counting that one-quarter of the ballots until sometime next week because of an outdated New York State law that prevents the count before then. So, we must wait.
While waiting is hard, I know that when it comes to our country, it’s always more important to get it right than get it fast. Voters -- not the news or politicians, candidates, or party bosses -- determine election outcomes. And there is danger in claiming victory just because the news called it.
We know about the infamous 1948 Chicago Tribune's quick and false “Dewey Defeats Truman'' headline. And in 2000, news networks called Florida too early in favor of Vice President Al Gore, and had to retract. We learn from the past or we are doomed to repeat it. So we wait for our Boards of Elections to finish their job and release the final results.
Having to wait doesn’t mean our system failed in any way; it means it’s working, because it means lots of folks did what our Founders expected us to by stepping up to vote. The people who work incredibly hard at the Boards of Elections in Schuyler, Chemung, Steuben, Tompkins, and Yates counties are remarkable public servants who are honoring the citizens who voted by taking their votes seriously.
And the folks whose votes we’re waiting to count are our brave members of the military, people quarantined because of COVID, people unable to physically get to the polls, seniors who are homebound. Because we honor and respect their voices just as much as we respect the voices of those who voted in person, candidates up and down the ballot -- including me -- are not declaring victory or conceding until their voices are heard. And just as vote counts can change on Election Night from one hour to the next, the vote counts will change over these next two weeks.
What we do know now is that we Americans proudly wrote a new chapter in our history this year by standing solidly on the foundation of our democratic republic to vote in record numbers. We did this even in the face of events that threatened deep fissures in that foundation. Events like a pandemic ravaging our country, like seeing, on the right, left, and in between, that some elected officials act more in their self-interest than for their constituents, and that special interests win when they pit neighbor against neighbor to distract from their apolitical profiteering. As a democratic republic, our foundation held because we voters exercised our right to decide.
Of course we will hear a lot of unfounded stories as our votes are tallied well into November. We’ll hear political gossip, fake news, crazy rumors and lots and lots of noise. We will see political posturing that is nothing more than an act. Uncertainty and nervousness will affect us all. Like the Founders, however, let us stay committed to the promise of our democratic republic. Let optimism, not fear, set our course. Every vote must -- and will -- be counted.
I’ve been in this race for a year, reaching out to voters, listening hard and figuring out solutions to our very real problems, all while adapting to the COVID pandemic. So if it takes just another two weeks to get the results, I can wait. I will respect our responsibility to our great democratic republic to wait until that moment when we’ve honored every voter out there by counting their vote.
Photo: Leslie Danks Burke
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Carl Blowers, Jim Howell, Michael
Lausell, Van Harp
Bottom row: Gary Gray, David Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro
Carl Blowers, 535-6174 or 237-5469
Gary Gray, 292-9922
Van Harp, 329-2160
Jim Howell, 535-7266 or 227-1141
David M. Reed, 796-9558
Michael Lausell, 227- 9226
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482
Mark Rondinaro, 398-0648
County Clerk: Theresa Philbin, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Holley Sokolowski, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E.
United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address: http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html
United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451
State Senator Tom O'Mara
-- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca
(Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791