By Robert Kroll
The Super of a tenement building is generally viewed as a servant, an underling, a middle person between the tenants and the building owner whose job is to refuse to make repairs, ignore tenant needs, and be sure all rules and regulations are slavishly followed.
But there is another less understood, less followed, model for the Super—the role model and conscience of the building. The Super can serve as an organizer of the political energies of a building. Before you fall on the floor laughing uproariously, consider that a Super has a natural advantage in communicating with the entire building as he or she has a database of contact information. So why not employ that information for a good (non-partisan) purpose: getting out the vote?
Naturally, the Super should not interpose his or her politics on the building. He or she would likely be terminated for trying to abuse their power in that way. And it annoys the peasants, i.e. tenants. But what co-op board or building owner could object to a Super making efforts on behalf of the cause of democracy by reminding the tenants to vote in an upcoming election? The answer to the last question is easily forthcoming: the Republican owner. In recent decades, the strategies of the two party system have diverged. The Dems try to boost the Democratic turnout and the Republicans try to suppress it. How could it be otherwise where one party has a large plurality, nationally, of registered voters?
So, recognizing I’m writing primarily to Democrat Supers, and what could be more super than a Democrat (?), with Democratic owners or boards, I offer the following advice for doing your part to send voters to the polls:
As soon as you are reading this, put up a notice or send out reminders of when early voting begins, in the case of the West Village, October 24 or three weeks from the date of this newspaper.
Urge unregistered eligible voters (citizens) to register, either online and mailing their registration form to the address on the form; or register at the office of the election official in their borough. The online forms can be turned in at libraries, post offices and the borough’s DMV office. If mailed, it must be postmarked by Oct. 9 and received by Oct. 14.
Organize your efforts to communicate when, where and how to vote in that notice of early voting. If the building has a bulletin board, put up a notice that provides the location of early voting sites, the times of day that voting is allowed, and the fact that early voting goes through Nov. 1, a Sunday. Voters can either bring an absentee or mail in ballot to the early voting place or get a ballot at the polling place.
If you’ve voted in New York before, there’s no need to provide ID to vote.
If you are a first-time voter, who registered by mail, and didn’t provide a copy of your ID with your registration, you may need to show ID to vote. Identification means either a current and valid photo ID, Driver’s License or NYS identification card; or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.
Voters without ID: If you are unable to provide ID, you will be able to vote affidavit ballot. Urge people to do so if that’s their only choice.
Election day is Tuesday November 3. Republicans have been known to send bogus notices to known Democratic voters urging them to vote on Wednesday, Nov. 4. It would be wrong of them to do so.
The notice should include a reason why it is important to vote in local, state and national elections, and there are many. One of the best: it’s the right, moral and public-spirited thing to do. Whether you think of our government as a republican form or a democratic form, lower case r and d, voting is the way of letting the government know how you feel about the job it is doing.
Clear all of the above with your co-op board or building management. Be sure they get the fact you are non-partisan in this effort and are only trying to get people to participate.
Be a super Super and motivate your building’s occupants to participate in the upcoming national election. It’s the right thing to do.