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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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Random Political Thoughts

1. There are 41 days until Election Day as of the day this will be published. Serious local campaigns that move votes and change minds typically go into permanent overdrive at the 40 day mark. Mostly, we have silence, as if both parties are hoping that national trends will depress turnout on the other side. We are being failed again.

2. What happened in Nassau County on Tuesday, September 13 was a kind of voter suppression, even if it was inadvertent. It wasn’t until Friday, September 9 that a court ruled finally that there would be Republican Party primaries held in two business days. The Republicans instigated it with their obnoxious, failed plan to create new districts this fall, but the Democrats made it worse by pressing for an immediate Republican primary elections due to conflicting sets of qualifying petitions. The Dems got to send out their “victory” press releases, so I guess they win.

3. There was no time for any reasonable system of mailed ballots or meaningful voter outreach or education. Most interested voters didn’t know which districts they were living and voting in. This is not a positive outcome. In a county in crisis, a mockery was made of a local political environment already suffering from lack of participation, interest and meaning.

4. There is no specific provision in the law to push the primary back a week to at least tell people there is an election scheduled. There was also no provision in the law to cancel a primary five hours after it started and reschedule it two weeks later, but it took the courts only minutes to allow it ten years ago that very week on September 11, 2001. Everyone could have asked the court to do the right and fair thing.

5. In the past year, four states have shortened voter registration periods, including consistently high-turnout Maine, which for 38 years allowed voters to register on Election Day. Fourteen states suddenly require voters to show identification to vote (seven specifically require government-issued ID). In Wisconsin, employees in their equivalent of our DMV were ordered not to remind voters of the new ID law. Three states now require voters to present proof of citizenship to register. Born in New York? Send away for a birth certificate.

6. Early this year, similar bills restricting voter access were introduced in at least 34 state legislatures, including New York.

7. A panel of political consultants estimates that $5.6 billion will be spent on political advertising in 2012. Former Louisiana Governor and Congressman Buddy Roemer, the strongest advocate for campaign finance reform running for President, can’t buy an invitation into these candidate debates, each co-sponsored by immense media companies. Discuss among yourselves.    

8. Mitch vs. Rick, Rick vs. Mitch, that’s all we hear. Please remember that four years ago at this time, we were all being instructed that the Presidential race was going to be Rudy vs. Hillary.

9. As of the summer filings, 40.9 percent of the $577,000 collected by candidates for the Nassau County legislature was made in contributions of $1,000 or more.

10. 1.3 percent of the $8,507,000 collected by candidates for State Assembly, not running until next year, was made in contributions of $1,000 or more.    

11. 65.8 percent of the $12,419,000 collected by State Senators was made in contributions of $1,000 or more.

12. I’m just counting contributions to individual candidate campaigns. I’m not including the various party committees that raise and expend the really big bucks, or mysterious advocacy groups like The Committee to Save New York, which spent $10 million on ads hyping Governor Cuomo and his budget this spring.

13. Unless they want to spend large amounts of time drumming up small contributions, or are willing to forego the political insurance and prestige signified by a significant campaign fund, legislators and the parties understand that they must pay attention to people who can make and solicit large contributions.

14. When people don’t vote, this view of the world is only reinforced. Even if you just enter a blank ballot, go to the polling place and sign in on Election Day.

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