Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting for Action on the Weighted Vote

Gossips has often kvetched about the inequity of the weighted vote in Hudson--the scheme that is supposed to achieve the democratic goal of "one person, one vote" but in fact gives the representatives of the Fifth Ward a disproportionate amount of power on the Common Council. The weighted vote was taken up by Victor Mendolia in his Hudson Government 101 presentation at the Hudson FORWARD meeting on Monday night. The visuals for Mendolia's representation included a pie chart and a bar graph that show quite dramatically the inequity of the representation of the five wards on the Council.

This past spring, Hudson city government was the subject of a semester long seminar for a group of Hofstra Law students. The weighted vote was one of the topics studied. Brendan Friedman and Peter Barbieri, the two students who investigated the issue, reported that Hudson is the only city in the State of New York--probably in the entire United States--that uses the weighted vote to achieve "one person, one vote" and offered the opinion that Hudson's weighted vote, particularly because of the way it is calculated, raises constitutional questions.

People at the meeting on Monday night, very few of whom live in the Fifth Ward, wanted to know if anything was being done to correct the inequity of the weighted vote. The question was directed to Common Council president Don Moore, who was present at the meeting. (Aldermen from the Second, Third, and Fourth Wards--John Friedman, Tiffany Garriga, and Alexis Keith respectively--were also in attendance.) Moore replied that "the legal basis needs to be shown" that Hudson's weighted vote is unconstitutional and explained they were waiting for the full report from the Hofstra Law students. (What has been presented thus far is just the Executive Summary.) It was expected that the City would have the full report by now, since the study was completed at the end of the academic year, but it has not been received yet.


  1. I think for the pie chart to be meaningful we need to know the number of voters in each ward. Are those numbers available?

  2. How is the population distributed across the 5 wards? Is it in the same proportions as the weighted vote? Or, very different? Comparing the population distribution to the weighted vote distribution would be a good way to illustrate inequity.

    Elizabeth Nyland

  3. The inner city is being controlled by "boulevard bureaucrats". That's how we end up with an all white waterfront...