On Election Day, November 2, 2010, our federal government experienced a shift in power especially in the House of Representatives. But why didn't this shift occur locally? As a seasoned observer I will begin with my experiences with the new voting procedures. After signing in to vote, one of the trained Election Inspectors started to explain how I should mark my ballot. She began by saying she tells people to "select a party" pointing to the first column. I retorted, she was not supposed to tell me to vote for a party. She then looked at the rest of the ballot and told me to look for a candidate in the columns for each office, e.g. Governor, and then color above the name of my choice. She said when I finished marking the ballot she gave me, to let her know.
There was no booth available to mark my ballot so I stood in the middle of the floor marking it. I was almost finished when another inspector motioned to me to stand in one of the now empty booths. I finished,and the first inspector who had helped me was having a conversation so I waited and after a few minutes she did come over, grabbing my ballot. I retorted, "You are not supposed to look at my ballot." She replied she wasn't looking and pushed my ballot through the machine which accepted it.
When the voting hours ended, I returned with my Watchers Certificate to get the tallies from the three districts at my polling place. In one of the three districts for which I was collecting tallies, the inspector told me "Maisano had zero votes." When several of us protested, she finally found three sets of figures.
Later I found out that in many polling places, voters had experienced problems casting their ballots. The small print on the ballot and the lack of privacy were among the most common complaints. But another "Watcher" said she had to read the strip of tallies at the end of the evening because the inspectors were finding "zero's" in several places. Robert Cox, founder and editor of New Rochelle talk of the sound, said: "The most eye opening thing to me personally was the change in voting. The optical scan machines which were supposed to work more efficiently had problems with no privacy and no curtains. The ballots supplied for filling out were at open tables and anyone in line could see how the person was voting. This means the end of the secret ballot. It is dangerous to have this kind of voting because any interested parties could go into the polling place and watch how people are voting," Cox added.
When the voting is over, do the results tell us anything about our city and state patterns? Jerry Skurnik in an article in The New York Post (11/4/l0) titled, "Unions Made the New York Difference," claimed the "crucial" reason for voting patterns in New York State can be attributed to the over two million union members in the state. They are also an important part also of the Working Families Party.
In New Rochelle races for City Judge and a special election for Council District 3, both winners were predictably Democrats.. Neither of the two winners, Susan Kettner and Jared Rice, responded when asked for a statement. Both candidates had worked hard on their campaigns according to Arnold Klugman, Chairman of the New Rochelle Democratic Party, and he said he was proud of them. The Republicans in Klugman's view were "making an issue during the campaign that if you wanted change in New Rochelle you had to vote for Peter Parente. That was repudiated by District 3 where Jared Rice got 74% of the vote," He added, "In view of national trends, this was a very good result for the New Rochelle Democrats."
On the other hand, Steve Mayo was disappointed that Conservatives did not do better in state races and that Peter Parente did not prevail over Rice. It is unfortunate that someone of Parente's character and personality can not win the votes of Democrats. "I am happy and think it's good that the nation showed some sense in making a rightward turn. The Tea Party has scared the major parties rightward." "The overall theme of the campaign was change and people responded in New Rochelle to voices, both new and incumbent, who were up front about that. There was little that either major party brought to the table in terms of support," according to Warren Gross.
It was "a fear of Paladino and a massive Cuomo tsunami in District 3 and even city-wide," that caused the Republican losses according to Michael Brown, a former candidate for Mayor in New Rochelle. The Democrats in his view ran a better get out the vote campaign than the Republicans did. "I have never seen anyone work as hard of Parente against a virtual unknown and do so poorly. This was part of a massive tsunami. Kettner ran a very aggressive campaign. She was at the Wykagyl bagel store before her opponent, Cynthia Lobo, was even nominated.
A former State Assemblylman, Ron Tocci, stated, "It was a typical guvernatorial election that favored the party in power. Because New Rochelle is two to one Democratic in enrollment, more Democrats came out to vote for the Governor in New Rochelle You would expect Democratic locals would do well because there was no opposition at the top of the ticket on the Republican side and Republicans stayed home."
In the Westchester Guardian, November ll, 2010