The complicated act of voting in NYS

two primaries this summer

Voting has become a complicated act in 2022. I’m not talking voter suppression, which I’ve mentioned before.

First, congratulations to Sarah Macinski, a member of my church, who was elected to the Board of the Albany Public Library Trustees on May 17 in a ten-person race. The five-year terms of the three candidates with the highest number of votes begin in July. But Sarah, as the fourth-highest vote-getter, starts her four-year term immediately.

On the same day, school boards across the state were elected. The issues are more urgent than ever. Sandi Sonnenfeld from the board of the Mid-Hudson Arts Education Alliance sounds the alarm. “Of the 1,145 novels and nonfiction books currently banned in one or more public schools in the United States, 74 percent of them feature protagonists of color or LGBTQ protagonists? Another 22 percent examine racism and other forms of social injustice.”

While only a handful of candidates won on anti-Critical Race Theory, and anti-LGBTQ platforms locally, two people won on Manhasset, Long Island, as  Alan Singer reports.

ALSO: Albany Public Library names new Executive Director, Andrea Nicolay 

VOTING-New York State

As Daily Kos noted, “a Republican judge in upstate New York ordered the implementation of a new court-drawn congressional map that radically redraws the state’s existing districts and has already sparked widespread political upheaval. 

“The final map is in most respects similar to the draft proposed earlier… by court-appointed expert Jonathan Cervas, who appears to have prized compactness and competitiveness above other considerations, such as preserving communities of interest.” I must admit that, as an old poli sci major, I too support “compactness and competitiveness.”

Moreover, the Democrats had chosen to approve “maps that were shameful in their egregious bias. They overreached, with hubris both obvious and ugly.” The gerrymandering of certain districts, especially in New York City, was terrible.

Thus, New York State will be having 2 primaries this summer, at double the cost. Well, unless a lawsuit consolidates them. The second primary on August 23 will just be “for Congress and the state Senate, which saw its map struck down on the same grounds. Candidates for the Assembly and statewide office, however, are continuing to run in the original June 28 primary.”

One of the candidates in NY-10 downstate may include Elizabeth Holtzman.  Should she succeed in her comeback attempt, her 42-year gap between periods of service in Congress would be the longest in history by far.

ALSO: Federal Elections results in Australia

SNL- PSA: Vote

The 2022 Hall of Fame vote (baseball)

A-Rod, Big Papi

A-Rod, 2007
A-Rod, 2007

On January 25, 2022, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will “announce the results of its 2022 Hall of Fame vote live from Cooperstown… Any electees will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend on Sunday, July 24. they’ll be joined by the previously announced legends.

Of the 30 people on the ballot, 13 of them were on for the first time. Conversely, four players appear for the 10th and final time. They could be elected by a veterans’ committee down the road.

By far, the biggest first-timer is Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod, by many statistical standards, is the best player being voted on. As Wikipedia noted, “Rodriguez amassed a .295 batting average, over 600 home runs (696), over 2,000 runs batted in (RBI), over 2,000 runs scored, over 3,000 hits, and over 300 stolen bases, the only player in MLB history to achieve all of those feats.”

The problem is that he was involved in two performance-enhancing drug scandals. I give him a pass on the steroid use prior to 2004. As then-MLB commissioner Bud Selig noted, “at the time of the testing there were no punishments for this sort of activity.”

However, he was suspended in August 2013 for the rest of the season and all of 2014 for his use of human growth hormones. By then, he should have known better. So, if I were a voter, I would pass on him this year.

Similarly, I’d pass on Manny Ramirez (6th year, 28.2% of the voters last year, with 75% needed for induction), who served a 50-game suspension in 2012 for the second violation of the drug policy.

The 10th and final time

In a flip from last year, I WOULDN’T vote for Curt Shilling (10th year, 71.1%). And it has something to do with his public request not to be on the ballot. After last year’s vote, he touted “presidential election-related conspiracy theories; calling for a declaration of martial law; and comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, to a Nazi.

“After the December 31 voting deadline, Schilling doubled down by tweeting his support of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, a move that was a bridge too far for some voters who had otherwise continued to support him.” So, no.

Sammy Sosa (10th year, 17.0%) I would vote no. He was a great home run hitter, but too one-dimensional.

Conversely, I would vote YES on the great players
1. Barry Bonds (10th year, 61.8%) and
2. Roger Clemens (10th year, 61.6%)
who operated before Major League Baseball specifically addressed PED.

Who else

3. David Ortiz, (1st year) – Big Papi, “Played 20 seasons with Twins and Red Sox…10-time All-Star Game selection.” And an interesting character. Even though he played for the evil Red Sox.

4. Gary Sheffield (8th year, 40.6%) long and impressive career. A bit of a hothead, and like Bonds and Clemens, in the steroid accusation period

5. Andy Petitte (4th year, 13.7%) – I owned my bias last year.

In fact, everything I said about
6. Todd Helton (4th year, 44.9%)
7. Jeff Kent (9th year, 32.4%)
8. Billy Wagner (7th, 46.4%)
9. Scott Rolen, (5th year, 52.9%)
last year still applies.

10. Jimmy Rollins (1st year) – speed, power, good glove

I have no idea what the actual voters will do, though I expect Ortiz to get in. 

 

2021 Ballot Proposals: statewide, local

I looked on the ballot from both sides, now.

Before I could vote on November 2, 2021, or earlier, I needed to get up to speed on the 2021 Ballot Proposals. There are five statewide items in New York State, and two in the city of Albany.

There may be other local propositions where you live. They will likely be on the REVERSE side of the ballot from the candidates’ listings, so check out both sides!

The five state proposals are found here.

Ballot Proposal 1

Amending the Apportionment and Redistricting Process
This proposed constitutional amendment would freeze the number of state senators at 63, amend the process for the counting of the state’s population, delete certain provisions that violate the United States Constitution, repeal and amend certain requirements for the appointment of the co-executive directors of the redistricting commission and amend the manner of drawing district lines for congressional and state legislative offices. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

The Census guy in me supports:
Requiring that state assembly and senate district lines be based on the total population of the state, and require the state to count all residents, including non-citizens and Native Americans if the federal census fails to include them.
Provide for incarcerated people to be counted at their place of the last residence, instead of at their place of incarceration, for the purpose of redistricting. This practice is already established by state statute for Senate and Assembly districts.

I’m ambivalent about this:
Freeze the number of state senators at the current number of 63. Currently, under the state constitution, the number of senators was originally set at 50 and thereafter increased over time to 63.
On one hand, I would support Congress getting larger to counteract the unfairness the current system is applied to larger states. On the other hand, we’re talking about the historically dysfunctional state legislature.

All in all, I’m still thinking about this. Notably, the League of Women Voters of the City of New York recommends a NO vote. This is due, in part, because, “The proposed amendment would unfairly empower the majority party by preventing the minority party from having input into the final proposed maps.” Help me with this one, people.

Ballot Proposal 2

Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment
The proposed amendment to Article I of the New York Constitution would establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment.

Of course YES. But how would this work, exactly?

Ballot Proposal 3

Eliminating Ten-Day-Advance Voter Registration Requirement
The proposed amendment would delete the current requirement… that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election and would allow the Legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than ten days before the election.

YES.

Ballot Proposal 4

Authorizing No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Voting
The proposed amendment would delete from the current provision on absentee ballots the requirement that an absentee voter must be unable to appear at the polls by reason of absence from the county or illness or physical disability.

YES. People oughtn’t have to lie about how sick/infirm they are.

Ballot Proposal 5

Increasing the Jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court
The proposed amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court’s jurisdiction by allowing it to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current jurisdictional limit of $25,000.

Sure. It seems to be a response to inflationary pressures. The NYC LWV is YES on Props 2-4, and takes no position on 5.

The local items

Proposition: Council residency requirement
Shall the Charter of the City of Albany be amended to require any person seeking election as a member of the Common Council to be an elector and resident of the ward for which the person is seeking election for a continuous period of at least three hundred sixty-five (365) days prior to taking office and during the entire term of office, except in limited circumstances following reapportionment of Common Council wards?

What? That’s NOT the law already? YES.

Proposition: Increase Community Police Review Board Authority

Shall Article XLIV of Chapter 42 of the Code of the City of Albany be amended to increase the Community Police Review Board’s authority and ability to conduct investigations and to exercise oversight, review, and resolution of community complaints alleging abuse of police authority?

The IDEA of the CPRB was grand. But it has been a paper tiger. “The law was already affirmed by the Albany Common Council, in a unanimous 14-0 vote, in March but requires a citywide referendum from the public to go into effect. That would be a YES.

Building confidence in US elections (2005)

“Measures to encourage and achieve the greatest possible participation in elections”

“I wish that we could just have someone out there say in 2005, Jimmy Carter and James Baker did the Carter-Baker Commission to both tried to expand voting and make it more secure. They had 87 recommendations. Adopt them all. It means you won’t have ballot harvesting, but it means it will be easier to vote.”

I heard someone suggest this on one of those talking-heads shows two months ago. It made sense in building confidence in US elections.

The Commission had “five sturdy pillars.”

“Voter registration that is convenient for voters to complete and even simpler to renew and that produces complete, accurate, and valid list of citizens who are eligible to vote.”

This means not having wholesale purging of voter lists. Voters who move more often – students, renters, e.g. – should not be disenfranchised.

“Voter identification, tied directly to voter registration, that balances election integrity without introducing new barriers to voting, including the casting and counting of ballots.”

Prior to the pandemic, I never had to show my ID when I voted. The last two times, once involving early voting at a central location, and the other in an alternative site, I did. This is not to say it might not be onerous for others.

I’m suggesting something that’s a bit of a bugaboo for some: an option for people to receive an identification card that is FREE and not onerous to obtain. Or, in the alternative, a wider array of verification documents that don’t discourage the franchise.

When requiring, say, a driver’s license/non-driver’s license and the nearest DMV is two bus rides away with long lines, THAT is a barrier to voting. Too often, the ID requirements have been used to, de facto, disenfranchise.

More participation

“Measures to encourage and achieve the greatest possible participation in elections by enabling all eligible voters to have an equal opportunity to vote and have their votes counted.”

Having one drop-off box for ballots per county may seem fair in the abstract. But when one county has a few hundred and another has a few hundred thousand – well, no. People standing in long lines because there are too few polling places in “selected” communities.

I’ve been consistent in giving ex-felons the right to vote. It’s our duty as a nation to rehabilitate. How does that happen when the formerly incarcerated are denied the franchise?

“Voting machines that tabulate voter preferences accurately and transparently, minimize under- and over-votes,
restricting mail-in voting and allow for verifiability and full recounts”

This means non-hackable computers and paper records.

“Fair, impartial, and effective election administration.”

This would preclude a former elected person from asking an official to “find” him some votes.

My great fear is that if we can’t find a way to have elections that most people recognize as legitimate, the country will not exist. That may seem melodramatic, but I firmly believe it.

Amendments 15, 19, 24, 26

As I’ve noted many times, the arc of the Constitution bends towards greater participation in voting by its citizenry. Letting black people and women and 18-year-olds vote. Getting rid of the poll tax. Ultimately, we should be heading forward in making

BTW, the suggestion was offered up by Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department, who’s now a political analyst for “The Dispatch.” She suggested it on the July 11 episode of This Week

Read the 2005 report. It’s only 113 pages long, and it has pictures! What do you think can be done to create a more perfect union that enough people can get behind?

Voter suppression, 2020 edition

The ballot goes in the envelope which goes into the mailing envelope

elon-voting-bars-buttonVoter suppression is alive and well in 2020 America. Some of it is systemic, some intentional.

You may recall that the good voters of Florida – I write that without irony – decided that they would do the right thing in 2018. They reinstated the voting rights of felons who had served their time, except for murderers and sex offenders. Constitutional Amendment 4 was passed overwhelmingly, to my surprise.

But wait! The state legislature almost immediately added a provision that if felons owed fines and court costs, they STILL couldn’t vote. To no one’s surprise, many of the felons are poor. So the extra requirement amounts to a poll tax, which is a violation of the 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964.

To make things more complicated, it is also difficult for felons to determine what they owe. The Florida Division of Elections web site says:

Seriously?

If a person is still unsure about fines, fees, costs, and restitution, and the impact upon restoration of voting rights, the person can ask for an advisory opinion from the Florida Division of Elections. Please review section 106.23(2), Florida Statutes, and Florida Administrative Code Rule 1S-2.010 for how to ask for an advisory opinion and what information is required.

Meanwhile, former New York City mayor and rich guy Michael Bloomberg, with others, is trying to clear the financial debt of the freed felons. Naturally, Florida’s attorney general Ashley Moody has an issue.She requested that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate Bloomberg’s efforts, as “potential violations of election laws.”

Bloomberg and his political operation “have raised more than $16 million from supporters and foundations.” The goal is “to pay the court fines and fees for more than 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies, allowing them to vote in the upcoming election.” Ya know, Florida, if you didn’t violate the will of your populace by instituting a poll tax, Mike and his colleagues wouldn’t NEED to pay off the felons’ tabs.

The naked ballot

Pennsylvania’s ‘naked ballots’ are 2020’s hanging chads. “Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ordered state officials… to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner ‘secrecy’ envelope in November’s election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports… Pennsylvania requires voters to place their ballots in an unmarked ‘secrecy’ envelope before placing that inside another mailing envelope.”

With far more people likely to vote by mail in the Keystone State than ever before, this decision literally could decide the presidential election in November. Know also that a total of 16 states are required to provide secrecy sleeves for absentee/mail ballots. That includes New York. Whether those votes will be disregarded without following the correct procedure, I honestly do not know.

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