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Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
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Primary Thoughts

1. There is still time to work out some of the biggest problems with the new voting machines. Some of them could have been avoided with consumer testing and quality control. Some of the polling inspectors at the training sessions were saying that the printed fill-in circles were too light and were hard for some people to see. The publicized instructions didn’t match the actual voting experience at many locations (no “privacy sleeves”). There was avoidable confusion at my polling place over what machine I should vote on, and I could clearly see from 10 or 12 feet away how two other people voted. The most ominous problem is that it all took a long time, compared to the lever machines. This has to go faster. Anything like a reasonable turnout and people are going to be walking out on Election Day.…

2. A teeny but telling thing: The publicity campaign from the Board of Elections still compares filling in the circles to “the tests we used to take in school.” So, understandably, some people hesitated when they were handed a pen instead of a No. 2 pencil. They still emphasize “pencils only” on standardized tests. Usability testing. Please get some.… 3. A few years ago, a court ruling involving a down-ballot party effectively threw out New York’s generations-old prohibition on direct spending by party committees in contested primaries. To my knowledge, county committees have refrained from taking advantage of this, not wanting to alienate local party members. Might come across as unfair or even as bullying. Except to the people who run the Nassau Democrats. In this recent primary, tens of thousands of households were mailed brochures supporting D.A. Rice in her campaign for Attorney General, all marked “Paid for by the Nassau County Democratic Committee.” I got two. No formal endorsement was authorized by the fewer and fewer remaining neighborhood representatives who are supposed to make all designations, in public.… 4. This is what happens when an important public tool of public policy has utterly lost its way.… 5. Post-primary headline in Newsday about Ms. Rice: “Good Career Move,” with the subhead of “Experts: Rice Improved Her Job Prospects.” The online edition headlined it as: “Defeat increases Rice’s LI job prospects, experts say.”… 6. Um, I don’t really see it that way. Let’s move on… 7. I guess someone wants to send County Executive Ed Mangano a little message.… 8. Seemingly out of the blue, the State Senate Republican Campaign Committee have out-fundraised their Democratic counterparts since the middle of August. The Democrats went in heavily favored to pick up several seats. Now, a legislative staffer tells me it looks like a salvage operation. I opined that this can’t be possible, even for the State Senate Dems. “I’m not kidding,” I was told on the 10th of September.… 9. And then, suddenly, there was Mr. Carl Paladino.… 10. I hope that D.A. Rice remembers her own campaign advertising and supports the same kinds of ethics enforcement, redistricting reform and other positive changes for Nassau County that she advocated for New York State.… 11. Mr. Koch is traveling around the state as a crusader for redistricting reform. Pretty funny. He owes his political career and stardom to political gerrymandering. In 1972, Republicans in the state legislature merged the Manhattan Congressional district represented by Bella Abzug, a national celebrity, with that of William Fitz Ryan, a local progressive icon. Congressman Koch, by far less known and less popular, was saved.… 12. My household received 16 machine-dialed telephone calls (“Robo-calls”) in the last three days of the primary campaign. Robo-calls. Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch… 13. The two calls I received from live, paid phone banks were even worse. My favorite was the woman with the thick Southern accent telling me how important it was for us on Long Island to vote.… 14. In a new ethical low for oblivious campaigns, I have seen political signs posted during the night on the grounds of several public schools. Candidates, get your visual pollution out of our schools, parks and public rights-of-way. They aren’t yours.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: