Where the Heart Is - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2162952

Where the Heart Is

Sadly, the approaching June 16 Southampton Village election has come with the usual attempts to intimidate and dissuade village residents from voting based on made-up threats of “prosecution.”

During the last election cycle, some residents received anonymous, threatening letters wherein the writer insinuated that they knew their comings and goings and asserted that they would be “reported” to the authorities for fraudulent registration.

This is naked voter intimidation and a reliance on the specter of imaginary voter fraud to cast doubt on elections and scare people away from the polls. When did it become acceptable to try to suppress the vote, rather than getting out the vote, or advocating for your candidate?

Village residency for voting purposes, like all New York State electoral residency, is a “factors test” with an important factor being the intent to return over and over to a place to which one has significant ties — a place that one calls home.

Your choice of voting venue does not have to be your year-round home or your only home; it does not require homeownership at all, or a particular number of days in residence, and it does not fall to a tax analysis. It is not any one factor. It is a fact-specific inquiry that would require a court sifting through a mountain of evidence that connects a person to a place.

The voter makes the choice of voting venue. Proving fraud would be quite an undertaking, where what is in the voter’s mind is so critical to the analysis, along with other indicia of residency.

One can, quite obviously, not vote in different districts in the same election cycle. But we have come a long way from a time when people had one fixed residence for a lifetime, and there is wisdom in the saying that home is where the heart is.

Nobody should be scared into giving up their right to influence their community with their vote. Let the candidates win or lose on the merits, and vote.

Willa Bernstein