December 8, 2021

Geared up for the election

‘Votercade’ in Cortland encourages voter registration

votercade in Cortland

Kevin L Smith/staff reporter

Cars in a “votercade” leave the YWCA on Clayton Avenue in Cortland on Tuesday — National Voter Registration Day — to encourage people to vote Nov. 3.

Andrea Rankin taped banners to the sides of her car Tuesday morning. They read “Women’s Right to Vote 100th anniversary” and “Register to Vote!”

“I’ve got to spread the word as much as possible,” she said.

Rankin organized a “votercade” on National Registration Day to encourage people to register to vote by the Oct. 9 deadline, leading a convoy of cars across the SUNY Cortland campus and Cortland streets. The general election is Nov. 3.

About five cars were part of the motorcade as they honked their horns.

Rankin said people in the community acknowledged them with a thumbs up or a wave.

Rankin coordinated the event with Shaneya Simmelkjaer of the Bronx, a SUNY Cortland senior majoring in criminology, political science and African American studies, set up a handful of tables across campus to spread the word.

“Voting is an essential part of our democracy,” said Simmelkjaer, a Newman Civic fellow and president of the Black Student Union. “It’s important to vote, especially in our current political and social climate.”

“It’s a lot on the line for young people, especially,” said Sheila Cohen, a votercade volunteer and president of the League of Women Voters of Cortland County. “Issues like health care, education, climate change and the pandemic will be part of everyone’s future.”

Kathy Compagni, a member of the League of Women Voters, said she has heard some people say “with things so disruptive in our country, I’m not going to vote.”

“That to me would be a shame to not use the precious right of voting we have,” she said.

Compagni said she’s also heard people say they think their vote won’t matter. It does, she said.

“Imagine life if you didn’t have the right to vote and you didn’t have that voice,” she said. “I don’t think we can give into that level of cynicism.”

“We have political leaders who make wrongful decisions that impact our entire nation,” Simmelkjaer said. “Sometimes we can’t do anything about it at the moment, but our voices are heard through voting.”