Voters cast their ballots at Mattituck-Cutchogue Junior Senior High School in Mattituck...

Voters cast their ballots at Mattituck-Cutchogue Junior Senior High School in Mattituck in 2020. Credit: Randee Daddona

This Election Day, bring a little optimism to the ballot box.

There's too much cynicism and pessimism felt by too many people, rightly so, about politics now. The issues that Long Island must confront are many. But that’s all the more reason to seize the moment and weigh in, including by taking advantage of the progress that's been made on access to voting.

Voting has been easier than ever, with the waning pandemic, the growing adoption of absentee ballots, and the spread of early voting first made available to New Yorkers in 2019. Tens of thousands of Long Islanders have already cast their votes, according to county election boards. And election officials are still taking precautions to keep voters safe from COVID-19, from frequent cleaning of equipment and polling places to offers of hand sanitizer and masks.

Voting enthusiasm should extend to all Long Islanders, with contests for district attorney in both counties that will guide law enforcement priorities from Montauk to the Queens border. There are five important ballot proposals, including one enshrining a constitutional right to "clean air and water and a healthful environment." Nassau voters will be choosing top officials: county executive, comptroller, and clerk. And in both Nassau and Suffolk, there are town supervisor races for voters to choose the leaders whose daily decisions might have the most immediate effect on their lives.

Then there are the dozens of county legislative races. Too many of those contests are fully or partially uncontested, with too many nonactive candidates being put up by the county parties either so they can focus their efforts and resources elsewhere or because the partisan tilt of the district is too steep. That’s neither good for local governance nor the fostering of civic debate. We applaud those candidates who campaigned fully even in the face of long odds. Opposing viewpoints and ideas are healthy and should be raised and hashed out.

The debates that did take place on the county legislative level, however, provided more cause for optimism. Political sniping aside, there was much agreement on the need for Long Island to improve its roads and water systems, safeguard its natural spaces and ocean barriers, and improve the quality of life by revitalizing downtowns, creating more housing, and expanding the economy. How we get there is the work of legislatures and elected officials to come and it's often contentious. Participate in that debate by casting your vote, if you haven’t already.

Polls are open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in both counties. Find your poll site at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov. On Monday, you can still apply at each election board office for an absentee ballot, which must be postmarked by the end of Tuesday or returned to the boards or a poll site by Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Voters turn out for early voting at the West Hempstead...

Voters turn out for early voting at the West Hempstead Public Library on Oct. 23 in West Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

No matter how you do it, go vote.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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