Entitled To Vote - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1787175

Entitled To Vote

Rob Coburn’s Letter to the Editor [“Eligible Voter,” Letters, June 3] is all wrong.

Beginning with the statement “I’m not a lawyer, but …” he goes on, nevertheless, to give misleading “legal” advice. He warns “Person B,” whom he has supposedly overheard while in line at a local grocery store, that their presumably valid plans to vote in the June 18 village election, by absentee ballot, may be scrutinized and subject them to legal exposure.

His predictable conclusion? Don’t vote.

This irresponsible fear mongering, and spreading of false information on voting is part of a concerted effort to suppress the vote. Voter intimidation, in general and when it takes the insidious form of threats of prosecution, is illegal.

People who disagree with you are entitled to vote in our democratic system. If they are residents of the Village of Southampton, they get to vote in Southampton or by absentee ballot.

A quick call to the counsel’s office at the New York State Board of Elections would have saved Mr. Coburn some confusion. The counsel’s office at the BOE would tell him, as they recently told me, that the appropriate place of voting is not where one has the “most connections” but where one has “significant connections” that meet the definition of legal electoral residency.

In our dual residency state, that can be a second, vacation home where one regularly returns and spends time. There is no specific amount of time required. Ownership, for example, while not definitive, is one factor in a mountain of factors that would, hypothetically, be considered by a court of law in determining one’s electoral residence for purposes of voting.

Examples of other myriad factors are where you keep your stuff, where you pay taxes, your driver’s license, car registration, work and leisure activities, and, importantly, your intent. Is Southampton Village a place where you always intend to return? Do you think of it as a home? Efforts to expunge second-home owners from voter rolls have been roundly rejected by the courts.

Does Mr. Coburn, based on his eavesdropping, know Voter A’s and B’s intent, as well as the intricate details of their comings and goings, their work ties, their family situations, their pandemic travel patterns, their social club memberships, religious affiliations, and professional services they utilize, such as lawyers, doctors and dentists? Their long- and short-term plans?

If he knows all of those things, he’s been doing a bit more than casual eavesdropping.

Willa J. Bernstein