Odd-year elections don't get the respect they deserve
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There are other serious issues that arise out of elections. Every few years, thanks to the State Legislature, we are asked to vote on a series of constitutional amendments. Some of the proposed changes deal with things like exchanges of state land for even better private land, generally in the Adirondacks. Other amendments are of a more sweeping nature, such as the proposal to legalize casino gambling.
Votes on these amendments are plagued by two problems. The first is their location on the ballot. Some of the propositions are in plain sight, but others aren’t, and can be overlooked. The second problem is the lack of any statewide effort to explain these important proposals to the public. For the most part, they attract little publicity. Most people have heard about the vote on casino gambling, but know little about the other questions.
The qualifications of candidates for the courts get little or no publicity. There is no doubt that a few worthy people running for judgeships have lost because voters knew nothing about their qualifications. So we need to find a way to educate people about judicial races as well.
Every voter is entitled to get a mailing, at public expense, that describes what the ballot questions are, and who the candidates are for the bench and their qualifications. There are some parts of the state where voters get this information, but it should be a uniform mailing that goes to every registered voter.
The people are entitled to a better and fairer election process, regardless of what year the vote takes place.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.