Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Outcome on the Weighted Vote

So tonight, a resolution to take the first step toward correcting the inequities of Hudson's weighted vote system, which is probably unconstitutional, came before the Common Council. The resolution did not propose a solution. All it did was resolve to put the following question on the ballot in the 2016 general election:
Shall the Common Council of the City of Hudson amend the City Charter to replace the current ward method of weighted voting utilized by the City with voting districts of equal population such that every resident of the City of Hudson is equally represented on the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors?
Pretty simple language. Pretty noble goal. Let the people of Hudson decide if the inequities are to be amended or not. Here's what happened in the roll call vote.
President Moore (190 votes): Aye.
Alderman Delaney (364 votes): This is a democracy--government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I vote aye.
Alderman Donahue (364 votes): I believe the wards are fine as they are. I vote no.
Alderman Friedman (180 votes): Aye.
Alderman Garriga (185 votes): No.
Alderman Henry Haddad (180 votes): Aye.
Alderman Nick Haddad (95 votes): Aye.
Alderman Keith (95 votes): No.
Alderman Miah (185 votes): [After some comment the gist of which was he thought the issue required more study] No.
Alderman Rector (95 votes): Aye.
Alderman Stewart (95 votes): No.
The resolution passed with 1,104 affirmative votes (1,015 are required for a simple majority) and 924 nay votes.

After the clerk had tallied the votes, and the outcome was announced, Fifth Ward alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue asked, of no one in particular, "Why would I want the wards changed? I have a weighted vote."

The hero in the struggle for equity tonight was Fifth Ward alderman Bart Delaney, who recognized that fair is fair and voted his conscience. It's understandable why Second Ward aldermen Abdus Miah and Tiffany Garriga voted no. Their weighted votes are second only to the powerful votes of the Fifth Ward aldermen. But why did Fourth Ward aldermen Alexis Keith and Ohrine Stewart, whose votes are among the least powerful on the Council, vote against taking the first step toward correcting the inequities? 'Tis a puzzlement.


  1. You have to admit, he's got a knack for coming up with good blog names:

    "Why would I want the wards changed? I have a weighted vote."

  2. Excellent news and thank you Carole for consistent and thorough coverage of the issue. Hudson FORWARD gave a public presentation on this summer of 2014, providing a summary of the issue and why it matters. The slides are here: http://www.hudsonforward.com/resources/weighted-vote-101/

  3. Won't the mayor just veto the resolution? And then the CC won't have a 2/3 majority to override his veto?
    So the weighted vote system just self-perpetuates?

    1. By doing the math for them, you've set back the goal of representative democracy by months.

    2. May I issue a demurrer?: decades.

  4. This is a good time to make your views known to your Aldermen and to the Mayor. If you want to see this pass, speak up and be counted.

  5. "More Study"
    Either you want voting to be fair or crooked?
    simple aye or nay

  6. I amazes me that the Fourth Ward Representatives voted against this, basically, giving themselves and the constituents of the Fourth Ward less voting power on the Common Council.

    The election is coming up, and now residents of the 4th Ward have a choice at CHANGE.

    If on the Common Council, I would have voted in favor.

    I'm on the ballot in November for 4th Ward Alderman - Rich Volo, Working Families Party.

    1. It's stupefying what momentary alliances get people to vote this way or that, with little understanding of the surest bet of all: democracy.

  7. Its pretty obvious now that those who vote to continue unconstitutional corruption enjoy the benefits of such.

    1. In trying to understand what seems unfathomable to a lot of us, I think we need a broader notion of what constitutes a "benefit."

      The phrase "one man, one vote," which is exciting to an ever-shrinking number of people, can still lead its enthusiasts to forget that representative democracy is oligarchic by definition (for either 2, 4 or 6 years at a time).

      That suggests that elitist demagogues are here to stay, characters who increasingly prey on those who covet the hope that what is essentially irresolvable will one day be resolved.

      That's not to argue that injustice doesn't exist in the world, but only that the unrealistic goal that government solve all ills - which is a quasi-metaphysical goal for a good many people - forms a dialectic with our immediate feelings of disenfranchisement. (Those who're caught in the dialectic are blind to it; otherwise, it would lose all its force.)

      Where unrealistic goals shape the outlook, disappointment and resignation are sure to follow.

      What's grown out of this sad cycle, for better or worse, is a system whose mutations have tracked these increasingly unrealistic socio-economic narratives. (In Hudson, it's meaningless to differentiate Right from Left in this regard.)

      "Worse" means depending on widespread resignation to perpetuate a hold on power. In an arrangement as cynical as that, the "benefits" don't even need to be tangible anymore. For those caught in the dialectical web, psychological succor may be benefit enough.

      When resignation is on the upswing (however unconscious it is), even a mere alliance within this "unconstitutional corruption" is rewarding enough for those who feel they must accept and work within a system that already is, even if that system is obviously unjust.

      (The idea that all social change requires revolution, with all the baggage that term implies, is closely related. Unfortunately, that's the kind of reflexive thinking which clouds what is needed most in Hudson. In the present example, we need a realignment with principles that are anything but revolutionary. That's another conversation, but it begs the same question: Who'll take on such challenges if residents themselves are individually trapped in metaphysical-sized narratives which work perpetually to undermine our sense of our sovereignty?)


    The current voting weights are wrong because they aren't based on the actual ward boundaries. Part of Ward 4 was given to Ward 5; part of Ward 5 was given to Ward 3; and the Hudson Terrace Apartment were misallocated between Wards 1 and 2. The larger portion of the apartments are north of Warren, but a larger chunk of that census block was given to Ward 1.

    Had the actual population been used to calculate the voting weights, then the resolution would have failed (because Wards 2 and 4 are cheated by use of the wrong population figures).

    Whether weighted voting is constitutional or not is an interesting question.

    But when weighted voting is not based on the actual population it is clearly unconstitutional - particularly when the errors change the result of votes.