COVID-19 Safety Information

Online forums address voting, healthcare and climate

Online forums address voting, healthcare and climate


Across the U.S., concerned citizens and politicians are encouraging people to vote while also proposing ways of safeguarding voting systems.

Recent razor-close elections dramatize the importance of this issue. Last November’s race for the 22nd Congressional District encompassing Cortland, for example, was so close that it took three months to decide, with just 109 votes determining Claudia Tenney as the winner.

In order to tap into that national discussion, SUNY Cortland’s Institute for Civic Engagement will hold a deliberative dialogue on voting access and security. Rescheduled from the live, Constitution Day event, “Voting: How Should We Encourage and Safeguard Our Elections?” will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, on the following Webex link.

The evening of digital dialog kicks off three planned public deliberation events where students and other campus and community members can practice their skills in public affairs conversations.

Two other public deliberations are also scheduled this fall to take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.:

  • “Health Care: How Can We Bring Costs Down While Getting the Care We Need? will be on Wednesday, Oct. 13, on the following Webex link.
  • “Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Changing Climate?” will occur on Wednesday, Nov. 17, on the following Webex

All three virtual discussions are free and open to the public.

Please register in advance to participate in one or more of the events by emailing John Suarez, director of the Institute for Civic Engagement (ICE) and coordinator of the Office of Service Learning.

Suarez will moderate all three events. For the small-group portion of the public deliberations, moderators include David Runge, coordinator of SUNY Cortland’s COR 101 program for first-year student success; as well as Hailie Addison, a self-directed student intern in the ICE’s Action Team.

“In a public deliberation, everyone participates,” Suarez said.

“In moderated small- and large-group settings, we will explore options for making elections accessible and safe,” Suarez said. “Participants will have background information, and they will practice skills in civil and productive discussion.”

Campus community members gathered in 2019 to dialogue about the climate crisis during that year's Constitution Day commemorative event (image courtesy of John Suarez).

Other upcoming ICE events are as follows:

  • The New York Public Interest Research Group will hold a kick-off event with its National Voter Registration Day work, on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Details are coming.
  • Kathleen Donovan of the Redistricting Data Hub will present “Redistricting Isn’t Just for Gerrymanderers Anymore” from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14. at the following Webex link. The event was organized by Chris Badurek, associate professor of geography and a geographic information systems scholar.
  • ICE as part of BridgeCortland will cohost a BridgeUSA Generation Roundtable titled “The Intersection of Environment and the Criminal Justice System” at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27. This remote event is in collaboration with five other Bridge chapters around the country including the University of Southern California. Addison is organizing this event and will provide details later.