By Tyronda James
“In order for democracy to really work, it has to be for the people and by the people. And if the people aren’t allowed to vote, then we are not participating in a democracy,” said Sherita Traywick, candidate for the NYS Senate – 56th District, who is loudly speaking out against voter suppression.
Traywick on August 27 held a press conference at Danforth Tower West on the city’s west side to speak out and announce her write-in candidacy. She said she was moved to meet at Danforth Tower West, because it was once one of the largest community polling sites for years.
“Danforth Tower West, for example, houses some of our most vulnerable populations. And yet their polling site was removed out of the building. And we understand because of COVID. But now for the November election, we need to make sure that that polling the equipment and that this building is still a polling site,” said Traywick.
“That’s why I chose this particular site. And I’m from this neighborhood. I grew up on Wellington Avenue and when I was campaigning, I was right here in this building. So, the folks that live here, especially our seniors, that’s our most vulnerable community. They deserve to have this be a public site.”
She said when equipment was removed due to COVID, “many of the people didn’t have a place to vote that was convenient for them.”
Traywick said she feels the issues were both a COVID and BOE related. “We can’t continue to use the excuse that COVID is crippling us. I’m asking for a proactive solution, not to go back to June, but to make sure that it’s not done in November.”
Traywick, is a member of the Greece Central School District Board of Education and has worked in Government and the Nonprofit sector for 20 years. She currently teaches Criminal Justice at Rochester Institute of Technology and serves as executive director of Young & Gifted, Inc., a nonprofit that mentors youth.
She said during the June democratic primary many people were unable to vote due to reduced polling sites, inability to properly fill out absentee ballots, long lines at polling sites and lack of social distancing.
Traywick said, “due to a flawed election process and the inability for some of our most vulnerable people to vote for their desired candidate,” she will be continuing her campaign as a write-in.
A write-in candidate’s name does not appear on ballots, but whose name must be written on the ballot by voters. Traywick wants to give those who were denied the opportunity the ability to vote for her in the general election.
“I decided to continue my campaign on a write-in basis because of the problems that we heard in June. I felt like those folks that really wanted to vote for their desired candidate could not do that,” said Traywick.
She said she’s very frustrated as a candidate to know that ballots were thrown out and that polling sites weren’t easily accessible. “Yes, I’m frustrated, but I’m moving forward as a write-in candidate, to right the wrongs that have been done,” said Traywick.
Traywick said she was unsure of any other candidates who are also doing write-in campaigning.
Traywick has a call to action for the community. Traywick wants the community to register to vote and encourage friends to register as well. Also:
- Use early voting or vote by mail, drop off your ballot at the BOE.
- If you are young and healthy, volunteer to work the polls on Election day. Don’t just volunteer to work polls, but volunteer to work in the most vulnerable communities where you are needed.
- Elect Candidates who know firsthand the issues which affect your community and have a track record of fighting to make sure your voices are heard
- If you know of possible polling sites where social distancing guidelines can be implemented, please contact the BOE
- If you have a problem at your polling site, please ask for a Supervisor and/contact the BOE
There are also demands for the BOE. “We want more polling sites where social distancing can be practiced in a safe way. We want to make sure that we have trained staff. We also want to make sure that the equipment is working and that sites are going to open up on time,” Traywick said.
“We have too many things at stake. People are concerned about their kids going back to school and what school’s going to look like. Our seniors are concerned about housing and healthcare. We have criminal justice issues that we need to focus on and who we put in office will help determine those decisions. But if you don’t have your voice and you can’t vote because of inaccessibility, then that is a problem.”
Traywick urges all who are able, to vote on Election Day, November 3rd.