My letter to Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioners seeking re-election

I believe in transparency in my role as Onondaga County Elections Commissioner. That is why I started this website. In that spirit I am releasing the letter I have emailed and mailed to Onondaga County Democratic Committee members. The vote is October 6th and I have learned I am unopposed however I think it is important to ask for their nomination anyway. I also hope this gives you some insight on my philosophy and goals as one of your elections commissioners.

Being Sworn in for my 5th term as Elections Commissioner in 2020

Dear Democratic Committee Members,

            Ten years ago, you gave me the immense honor of nominating me to be your Democratic elections Commissioner.  I had no idea then what a momentous point this would become in my life.  This was never a job for me.  This was and remains a mission.  It has now become a fundamental tenet to who I am and outside my family, the main driving force in my life.  I would have it no other way.  That is why I come before you today to humbly ask for your nomination again for another two-year term.

Testifying in front of the NYS Senate Elections Law Committee 2018

            The last decade as Elections Commissioner has seen major change in the electoral landscape in New York and Onondaga County.  Most of these changes came as a result of the Democratic takeover of New York Government during the last midterm election in 2019.  We have instituted Early Voting, and its expansion.  Universal registration has made it easier for voters to move from county to county.  Expanded polling options on campuses have allowed us to serve Lemoyne, Syracuse University, and Onondaga Community College better, including winning the long battle to having a campus Early Voting site at OCC.  Expanded use of absentee voting during the pandemic has highlighted the need to change the way we canvass absentees in New York.  I advised and advocated for the bill that made it possible for us to eliminate challenges of absentees and report results on election nights instead of weeks later.

Showing the filing system and security of absentee ballots in 2020.

            I have also tried to make the Onondaga County Board of Elections the most transparent Board in all of New York State.  Over the last ten years we have used our website, onvote.net, to make it easier for voters and campaigns to get the information they need.  Voters can get links to check their registration and polling place, apply for and track their absentee, and tools for registering for the first time.  Our results reporting system gives more data on Election Night than ever before allowing the press and campaigns to know who has and hasn’t reported in real time.  We have expanded our results page to include election results going back to 1960 and more is on the way.  We also have expanded statistics page tracking BOE performance since 2009.

Addressing the Democratic Caucus of Commissioners at the NYSECA Winter Conference January 2018

            Since 2017 I have also had the honor of being the Democratic Caucus Chair of the New York State Elections Commissioner Association.  In this role I lead all 62 counties in New York in organizing the Democratic Commissioners and leading them through this tumultuous ever changing electoral landscape in New York.  In this role I have been honored to testify several times at the New York State Legislature.  I have worked with legislative leaders to introduce, amend, and pass legislation that will make it easier for voters and bring more responsibilities and resources to Boards of Elections statewide. 

Press Conference announcing lawsuit over the Onondaga County Gerrymandered legislative lines.

            The last four years of my professional career have been dedicated to the cause of fair redistricting.  As the 2020 census loomed, I realized the need to change the way we normally redistrict.  I partnered with Helen Hudson and Chris Ryan to start Fair Maps CNY.  We joined forces with Common Cause to change the way we redistrict inside the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County.  In the City of Syracuse, we successfully passed a charter change that ensures all redistricting will be done by an independent citizen led panel.  This Panel reshaped City districts and successfully had their map passed by the Common Council this month.  Unfortunately, we have not been as successful with the County Legislative redistricting process which is why I have joined the Democratic Caucus lawsuit to challenge the illegal gerrymander of the County lines.

My regular programs on dustinczarny.com

            I have personally expanded my own educational outreach as well.  During the pandemic I formally expanded my occasional Commissioner in a Car segments to a weekly podcast.  I also have added a weekly interview video/podcast Zoom with Czarny interviewing candidates and Democracy advocates.  I added a weekly blog The Weekly Wonk to dig into statistics and election law.  All of this is hosted at my personal website dustinczarny.com.  I do this on my own time with my own money and never take outside donations or advertisements as this is part of my mission to educate the public.

Addressing the Onondaga County Democratic Committee in 2016

            We have a unique opportunity in Onondaga County.  The changing demographics are allowing us to compete in the suburbs and county wide.  For the first time in my over 25-year career in this party the electorate is ready for Democratic government in all corners of our county and county wide.  However, to truly take advantage of this we need unity.  There will be change in our party with a new leadership taking over this October.  We also have a chance at taking congress this year.  I urge all of us running for office on October 6th to unite on October 7th and focus on this year’s races while preparing for the county races next year.  Unity does not mean that we abandon races or differences of ideology.  What it does mean is we find ways to embrace every party of our party, be transparent as possible, and put aside our differences to win the general elections each year. I pledge to be part of that effort if you honor me with your vote for another term as Elections Commissioner. 

Sincerely,

Dustin Czarny

Onondaga County Elections Commissioner (D)

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