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Friday, May 27, 2016
Voters deserve more competitive contests

Every two or four years, we get to hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they have or haven’t made, the actions they took or didn’t. It’s one of the greatest privileges we have in our democracy.

According to the system the Founding Fathers developed, if we don’t like the job an elected official is doing, we can pick someone else. In Nassau County, that wasn’t necessarily the case this year, as voters in several legislative districts were left with only one choice on the ballot — or, in some cases, only one viable choice.

The Democratic Party had no candidates in four districts — the 6th (Lynbrook, Malverne, eastern Valley Stream), 8th (Franklin Square, West Hempstead), 12th (Massapequa) and 14th (Garden City, Westbury, Hicksville). In the 4th District, Long Beach Legislator Denise Ford was endorsed by both parties. A Republican candidate for an open seat in the 10th District, in northwestern Nassau, and a Democratic challenger in the 17th, in the east, did not actively campaign.

Leaving voters without choices seems to contradict our system. We’d bet that even the uncontested incumbents would agree that winning by default isn’t the right way. Real public servants want to know that a victory on Election Day means they were the people’s choice, not the no-choice winner.

Earlier this year, the County Legislature redrew the boundaries of its legislative districts. The process, known as redistricting, is mandated after each census to account for population shifts among districts and to protect the one-person, one-vote principle.

Each district has roughly 70,000 residents. Subtracting those under age 18, there are still tens of thousands of registered voters in each district. Could it be that in several cases, the major political parties couldn’t find one person to run? Even in the Republican-heavy 6th, 8th, 12th and 14th districts, we can’t imagine that there isn’t a single Democrat who might make a good public servant — or at least a reasonable, qualified alternative to the incumbent. Did the Democrats even make an effort to find viable challengers?


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This past local election should see the beginning of the end of "machine" politics and its antiquated role in winning elections. As technology and social networks inspire state and local government to become more transparent, and collaborative, voters and citizens alike will seek a more participatory and more influential role in winning elections and governing.

Saturday, November 9, 2013 | Report this

Regarding third parties, NYS election law states that in order for a statewide party to get on the ballot, they must get 40,000 votes (a rather arbitrary number?) for their gubernatorial candidate. 2014 is the next gubernatorial election. Once they achieve the 40,000 votes, the political party will appear on the statewide ballot for the proceeding four years. Yet, the NYS election law only applies to the creation of the state committee. What usually happens at the local level are party proxy wars among political power brokers which are aimed at establishing the county committees.

Term limits in the NC Legislature might seem to make sense. Some incumbents from both sides of the aisle have served for more than ten years - even since the inception of the body. But, as a result of the recent NC gerrymandering by the GOP, which is designed to entrench local GOP incumbents, there is also the likely outcome of a super-majority in the legislature for the NC GOP. Fortunately, this was not the case in this year's contests. For NC Dems, it is the one vital silver lining in the electoral cloud.

Sunday, November 10, 2013 | Report this
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