November 6, 2009

Election Post-mortem

I was pleased to read the final election results on Wednesday and discover that all but two of the candidates I voted for were elected. Now, as I’m in the process of trying to determine how engaged I’m going to stay with these folks after they get sworn in, and how closely I’m going to monitor my expectations of them, here are some random thoughts on the election.

Syracuse elected its first-ever female mayor, on the heels of our just electing our first-ever female county executive. Here’s hoping that the twin daughters of different mothers (Stephanie’s a Dem, Joanie’s a Republican) will be able to accomplish what the old boys have not – putting Syracuse and Onondaga County back on the right foot and making the kind of decisions regarding economic development, consolidation, and fiscal responsibility that we need to attract businesses, and more importantly, people. People who would want to live here, start families here, start businesses here, and stick around for a while.

Turnout was generally low in most areas, not only here in Onondaga County but generally in most areas. Naturally, the pundits have been analyzing and pontificating on this since even before the polls were closed, with most trying to make a connection to this year’s election and last year’s for President Obama. In my eyes, the reason why so many folks voted last year is because Obama, an incredible speaker with an idealistic message, was on the ticket, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elect an African American to the highest office in the land. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics, it was a singular moment in our nation’s history. This year paled in comparison, and turnout dropped accordingly.

I think young people, who stayed home in big numbers this year, are as fickle about voting as they are about everything else – which makes them just like the rest of us.

The race in the 23rd district was won by Bill Owens, the Democrat, and the first from his party since the late 1800’s to be elected in that district. Note that the district then looked anything like it does today, but it was a ground-breaking victory for the Dems and there’s dancing in the streets. Oh wait, the dancing in the streets is because we are no longer subjected to the horrid campaign ads. According to one news report, there were 9,030 political ads in that race. I think I saw every single one of them.

Also regarding the 23rd district, which doesn’t include Onondaga County: voters in at least one town were confused as to why Bill Owens, Dede Scozzafava, and Doug Hoffman were not on the ballot here. Seems they too had seen all of the ads and assumed that they would be voting for that race. I suspect that confusion was more prevalent than we’ll hear.

Some folks got to vote on our new, old-fangled voting machines, which require filling out a paper ballot, then feeding the ballot into a scanner. There have been many reports of privacy concerns both during the completion of the paper ballot, and then having to transport the ballot to the scanner, and in some cases apparently having the ballot reviewed by the election inspectors to make sure that folks had colored inside the lines. The system is new and some kinks are to be expected, but the secrecy of our ballots is sacrosanct and must remain so. That much has to be figured out before we vote again next year.

According to published reports, my lame-duck mayor will be getting a job in the administration of our Accidental Governor. Not sure doing what, but not surprised that the opportunity is coming his way, as it’s been rumored for a while now. I wish him well.

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