Dear Crown Heights community,
As most of you probably know, this Tuesday there will be elections on citywide races including the Mayor, district attorney, judges, members of the City Council and more. In addition, there will be a proposition – as there is every twenty years in New York – on whether the state should hold a constitutional convention, which you may want to research to understand the pros and cons, as well as the implications of a “Yes” or “No” outcome.
In the past, many members of our community have not gone to vote either because they thought they were too busy, or they thought that their vote will not make a difference “since everyone knows already who is going to win”, or “it makes no difference which candidate wins anyway”.
I would like to explain why every vote from our community makes a massive difference irrespective of who wins and even who you vote for. While every candidate you fill in on your ballot remains confidential and no one will ever know who you selected, the fact that you voted gets recorded once you sign-in prior to being handed a ballot. Consequently, city officials and politicians know exactly how many people voted in each community, block and even household. This is very important as there are many issues where we as a community would like to be heard by our elected officials, and many of us feel that we aren’t being taken as seriously as we should be, whether it’s matters related to policing, security, crime, ticketing, taxation, and sanitation among others.
Naturally, politicians will respond more to communities with a higher election turnout and less to those with a lower turnout. For instance if a member of the City Council is being asked by a community to work on a certain need that they have or address a problem that they’re facing, the response can very well be determined by the percentage of the community that votes in elections. So if most people in the community vote the elected official will feel more pressure to listen to them so as not to lose their support, and if almost no one in the community votes, they are effectively throwing away any political power they would have because politicians will not care what they want. Until now Crown Heights has sadly belonged to the latter category, and we have unfortunately brought it upon ourselves.
The good news is that it’s in our hands to change it, but for that to happen it is crucially important that we ALL go out to vote on Tuesday, whether you work, learn in Kolel, or are a student. Employers are legally required to allow all of their employees to vote, even if that means letting them leave work for a bit to do so. And while I’m sure that for some parents it may be an inconvenience to arrange for a babysitter so that they can head out to the polls, it is an inconvenience very much worth enduring.
As believing Jews we know that while trust in Hashem comes above all else, He has commanded us to do our השתדלות in ways that accord with the natural order of things in this world and not to rely on miracles if we want something, whether for ourselves or for those around us. While we are blessed to live in a country where everyone has the right and privilege to vote, I would argue that it is also a responsibility, not in the sense that the law forces you to do so, but that one who doesn’t and subsequently complains about something related to the government or politics has only themselves to blame for not doing their part to change it.
Please also keep in mind that when it comes to local issues like tickets, communal quality of life and the safety of our children, these elections have a much more direct effect and bigger impact than even presidential and midterm elections, though the latter two generate more excitement and buzz in the media. In that sense this election isn’t any less important than the “bigger” ones (and maybe even more so).
I’ll conclude by once again urging each one of you to actually go out on Tuesday and vote, so that together as a community we WILL start making a difference and with Hashem’s help start noticing a better attitude towards us from our elected officials where we actually feel that when members of the community speak up on important communal issues to our representatives, our voices are heard in a much bigger way than it has been until now, and most importantly we get our desired results.
P.S. Those who haven’t registered to vote yet, please don’t delay in going through the extremely short and easy registration process so that you’ll be able to vote in the congressional, senatorial, gubernatorial and many statewide elections in November 2018, as well as the various primaries taking place before then.