WXXI AM News

voting

Some voters in Monroe County will head to the polls on June 22 to vote in the primary. Historically, there has been low turnout. Primaries often decide local elections, especially in Rochester, where Democrats outnumber all other voters.

So why don’t more people vote in primaries? How does that impact polling? And would a stronger turnout in primaries mean for local elections? Our guests discuss these questions and more:

  • Paul Hypolite, founder of Leading With Our Values
  • Stephanie Townsend, councilmember for the Pittsford Town Board
  • Ken Warner, political consultant, writer, and community activist
  • Tim Kneeland, professor of history and political science, and director of research, scholarship, and innovation at Nazareth College

Is there a gender gap in support for populist politics? Our guests are political science professors who have been studying this question. We talk with them about gender patterns in voting, what the basis is for supporting populist parties, and how and why populist and right-wing parties are reaching out to the female electorate. It's a preview to a virtual lecture hosted by the University of Rochester at 4 p.m. called "A Century of Votes for Women."

Our guests:

  • Christina Wolbrecht, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame
  • Bonnie Meguid, associate professor of political science at the University of Rochester 

On this Election Day, we talk about different voting options -- mail-in, on-demand absentee, and early voting -- and what researchers say the data shows when it comes to outcomes. Do these measures expand voter participation in inclusive ways? Do they protect the secrecy of ballots? Our guests say the research says "no".

Susan Orr and Jim Johnson are political science professors whose work (pre-pandemic) shows that mail-in ballots and other "convenience voting" measures add insecurities to the vote and do little to increase participation. They argue that post-pandemic, voting by mail needs a sunset clause, and voting should be compulsory and secret.

This hour, we discuss their research and their book, "Should Secret Voting Be Mandatory?". Our guests:

  • Susan Orr, associate professor of political science at the State University of Brockport
  • Jim Johnson, political science professor at the University of Rochester

People living with developmental disabilities often have to overcome more challenges to cast their ballots than the average voter. As they navigate those hurdles, some Western New York advocates in the disability community are also tired of being an overlooked voting bloc.


Our guest is an attorney who worked on the Bush/Gore legal dispute over the 2000 election. Jeff Wadsworth was tasked with historical research that could offer some guidance on which ballots should count, and how to protect voting rights. A lot has changed since 2000, but Wadsworth says there are attorneys already working to deal with a close and contested election this time around.

So what issues could cause a legal showdown in 2020? And what did we learn from Bush v Gore? 

New York Now

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many voters to choose to cast their ballots by mail this year.

In New York, every eligible voter can vote by absentee ballot if they are worried about the virus.  But the rules are still a bit complicated.

Karen DeWitt sat down with the League of Women Voters' Jennifer Wilson to sort it all out.

This year's state budget included new election rules that will affect third parties. Under the new provisions, political parties in New York must earn at least 130,000 votes -- or two percent of the total vote, whichever is greater -- in the last preceding election for governor, and the same for its candidate for president in a year when a president is elected. Third party officials and members say the rules are unfair.

We explore the issue this hour with our guests:

  • Sochie Nnaemeka, director of the Working Families Party in New York
  • Alex White, member of the Green Party and former candidate for office
  • Lauren Hall, member of the Libertarian Party, and associate professor of political science at RIT

Monroe County Board of Elections commissioners join us to explain the options for voting during the pandemic.

After a chaotic primary in June, the commissioners have been working to make sure that everyone who wants to vote understands their options. We discuss voting by mail, voting in person, and we answer any questions that listeners have.

Our guests:

  • Jackie Ortiz, Democratic commissioner for the Monroe County Board of Elections
  • Lisa Nicolay, Republican commissioner for the Monroe County Board of Elections
  • Natalie Sheppard, Democratic deputy commissioner for the Monroe County Board of Elections

Is it time to change the voting age to 16? This week NPR profiled the man who is leading a national movement on lowering the voting age. He argues that young Americans will have to live longer with the consequences of policy making, so they should be able to join the voting process sooner. Critics argue that adults age 18-29 barely vote as it is.

Our guests debate the merits of changing the voting age:

  • Paul Hypolite, public affairs strategist
  • Allison Bourgeois, high school junior
  • Gary Pudup, veteran campaign organizer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed executive orders that he said will help ensure safe and secure voting in November’s elections. 

Cuomo said the fall elections will be one of the most critical and controversial in modern history, and he’s already signed bills approved by the state Legislature that will allow the COVID-19 pandemic to be an authorized reason for voting by absentee ballot, among other things. 

Now, the governor is taking those measures a step further.

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