June 23 will be a primary election day like we’ve never seen before. The election period starts today with early voting in New York state.

The big race in Greene and Columbia counties is a contest between two little-known candidates from the mid-Hudson Valley.

Ola Hawatmeh, a fashion designer from Pleasant Valley, and Kyle Van De Water, a litigation attorney from Millbrook, square off for the right to run on the Republican line to challenge U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck for his congressional seat in the 19th District.

Since we continue to live in the age of the coronavirus, the mailbox will be the focal point of this election. Eligible voters receive absentee ballots in the mail; fill out the ballots completely and return them by mail.

In addition to the Republican congressional primary, the Democratic presidential primary is back on for June 23 under a federal court order. There are also numerous candidates running to serves as delegates to the Democratic national convention.

The primaries are a mess this year, but whether we are able to go to the polls this year or cast ballots by mail — check your local board of elections for information on polling sites — it is the right and duty of all eligible citizens to vote.

Primary elections in 2020, battered by changing dates, court rulings and COVID-19, remind us of a quote from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. “Democracy is the worst possible system,” he said, “except for all the other systems.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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