Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Day I Voted For a Republican

Yesterday, as far as I know, in a history of voting in elections dating back to my first vote, in the fall of 1972, for George McGovern, I voted for a Republican instead of a Democrat. When the City Council voted in June to abolish the position of city historian I vowed to vote against my local council member, Adam McFadden, who participated in this murder of history, and though he’s a pretty good sort, he won anyway, with 75% of the vote, so take that McFadden.

I thought I would just give an update on the Monroe County elections, which I have posted on several times. As expected, the incumbent Republican county executive, Maggie Brooks, not facing a Democratic challenger, won handily, with 75% of the votes. It is interesting though that the other county wide race, for district attorney, registered 30,000 more votes than the race for county executive, so there were many who voted who chose the silent (and utterly useless) route of not voting in that race to protest Brooks’s fecklessness. The Democrats did manage to narrow the gap in the county legislature from 17 to 12 to 15 to 14, and just imagine how well the Democrats might have done if they had bothered to put a damn candidate in the race for county executive,

The turnout here was only about 35%, the lowest in several decades. I presume it was even lower in New York City, where, as usual, in the year before a presidential election there are almost no local candidates on the ballot. This has always struck me as a mistake. At least on the federal level, which is every day moving closer to a plebiscitary dictatorship, there are at least mid-term elections, that enable the voters to register a protest and effect a change,however ineffectual and useless that might turn out to be. In New York City, you really only have one day every four years to pull a lever. Anyway, those of you who live in New York City might start thinking about a campaign for local mid-term elections. Perhaps the city council (or half the city council) should be up for election two years after the mayor is elected, or the vestigial offices of borough presidents, and there should be some way for New Yorkers to be able to vote directly on educational issues.

But what I would really like to institute a quorum, a required percentage of the electorate voting to make it count, 40% or 45%, perhaps. Without it, incumbents are simply turned out of office, no one serves until there is a redo election that meets the minimum quorum requirements. Politicians would have an obligation not merely to get more votes than the other guy, but to help increase the turnout in general. One could imagine certain problems with this proposal, but it seems to me that it would greatly heighten the responsibilities of politicians for the public, and for the public for the politicians.


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