Manhattanites who vote are still scratching their heads over this last ridiculous “election” in which six Democrats ran unopposed for six judicial positions. As a poll worker, from 6 a.m. to 9:42 p.m. on Nov. 3 I wallowed in the spectacle of seeing voters come to terms with the fact that they were participating in a sham. They had no say in whether or not nominees would take office. In effect, in full view, the fix was in. This raises the oft-asked question of whether or not we should “elect” judges. Of course we seldom know anything about them in the first place, but pity the citizen who tries to learn about a potential judge. Most did not feel the need to submit their bios to a voter guide.
Tuesday, when distressed citizens asked me if they had any choice at all, I pointed out their options: 1) Vote as directed. 2. Write in their own candidates. 3. Scan the ballot without marking it.
Three of some 100 voters in my district told me to void their ballots because they saw no point to any of it. There were other reactions to the situation as well. Two sets of parents audibly exhaled and proceeded to “privacy booths” to mark their ballots with their kids. (One is led to wonder about the value of secret ballots when the only choice a voter has is whether or not to participate.) Several who identified themselves as Republicans studied the sample ballot taped to the wall, mumbled about Donald Trump, and stole out into the night. I rejoice that New Yorkers generally support the principles of the Democratic party, but I am concerned that extremists and Know Nothings are hounding moderates from the party of Eisenhower. Couldn’t Manhattan Republicans manage to nominate even one judge?
In some parts of the city, notably Republican Staten Island where a Democrat became District Attorney, real elections did take place. Thus some of the estimated $13 million dollars the Board of Elections pays citywide to hold an election was well-spent. As for myself, I am left with pressing questions. Why did I not think to write in Joseph F. Crater and William M. Tweed? Who are the fools – the ones who turn out to cast a ballot or the ones who stay home? Finally, what can we do now that a great big democracy serves so few? Please comment in the box below.
Good column, Kathy. I was in the Hamptons on Tuesday and felt vaguely guilty about not voting (since I always do). But I couldn’t figure out what we were supposed to be voting on. Now I know.
I’m shocked, shocked to discover that ‘the fix is in’ in New York City. That $13 million would/could have housed and fed at least a few people for a few days. I always enjoy your missives sent from the depths of ‘the city.’ Have you any insights on the Cuomo-DeBlasio tift? Up here, it’s more likely unopposed Republicans. Single party rule has its weaknesses. Witness Albany, but it’s not boring.
What a great piece. Your are right on with your assessment of these empty “elections.”
Perhaps the local NYC media could demand some “diversity” of ideas in your elections. Reminds me of the one-party elections is despotic countries.