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Fred Kowal: Use Your Power - Vote

In just a couple of weeks, Americans will decide who will lead our country for the next four years.

My message is one of civic duty, of responsibility, one that we all carry as proud Americans and one that this year—of all years—no one should shirk. It is a citizen’s duty and one that I emphasized to students for years while teaching my American Politics course at SUNY Cobleskill.

Yes, we are in the midst of a pandemic and yes, we have a president who for months has done—and continues to do—all he can to block, obfuscate and deter Americans from voting. He’s repeatedly claimed—without proof—that voter fraud is rampant, the election is rigged, and that there’s no way it can be fair—unless he wins.

He’s so wrong. Your vote counts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Voter fraud is extremely rare in the U.S. The Washington Post, in a study they published in June, found just 372 cases of potential fraud out of approximately 14.6 million ballots cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 elections. That amounts to twenty-five ten-thousandths of a percent of all mail-in ballots in 2016 and 2018.

Also, Trump’s own FBI director, Christopher Wray, contradicted Trump in sworn testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Sept. 24. In his testimony, Wray said the FBI hasn’t seen historical evidence of a “coordinated voter fraud effort” in any U.S. election.

And in an unprecedented Oct. 6 video message, the directors of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. reaffirmed their confidence in our election system. CISA Director Chris Krebs said his confidence in the security of the election has, and I quote “has never been higher. unquote.

The process is not rigged. It will not fall prey to mass voter fraud. No one is purposely throwing votes in a creek, as Trump bizarrely alleged with no proof, during the Sept. 29 presidential debate. He also alleged, without proof, that mailmen in West Virginia were selling ballots.

They’re not. So, tune out the static and focus on what’s most important: casting your vote.

This year, New Yorkers have three voting options: voting in person, early in-person voting, and voting with an absentee ballot. Pick one, figure out when, where and how you’re going to vote and cast your vote. If you’re going to vote in person, mask up, take the proper precautions and cast your vote.

Your voice matters. Every voice matters. Those that tell you that your vote won’t count or that the election process is rigged are lying. Your vote counts.

Beware of phone calls, social media posts, mailings or any ads that try to persuade you not to vote. And do not be intimidated by anyone acting as a so-called poll watcher near your polling place.

Trump has repeatedly called on his supporters to go to the polls and look for fraud. The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 6 that the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee are aiming to recruit 50,000 poll watchers.

They cannot stop you from voting. Do not be deterred by Trump’s rhetoric and scare tactics. You have a right and a duty to vote. Especially in this election.

In 2016, President Barack Obama perfectly summed up the importance of voting when he said this: “Don't let people tell you that what you do doesn't matter – it does. Don't give away your power.”

Be like Obama. Keep your power. Use your power. Vote.

No less than the future of the United States of America hangs in the balance.

Dr. Fred Kowal is President of the 35,000 member United University Professions, which represents faculty on 29 New York State Campuses. UUP is an affiliate of NYSUT, The American Federation of Teachers, The National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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