Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Elemental Flaw in the Weighted Vote?

In recent months, Gossips has given a lot of thought and attention to the weighted vote system in Hudson. Recently, this contemplation has led to wondering why, in the 2010 census, the Fifth Ward gained population while every other ward in the city lost population. It was easy to understand the First Ward's population loss. In the ten years from 2000 to 2o1o, many houses that had been divided up into apartments were returned to what they were built to be: single family residences. It was easy to understand the Third Ward's population loss. A change in New York law meant that the inmates of the Hudson Correctional Facility could no longer be counted as residents of the Third Ward.

I posed my question to Victor Mendolia, who also has been giving a lot of thought to the weighted vote system. Was it just Crosswinds--the only new residential construction of any magnitude in Hudson between 2000 and 2010--or was something else happening in the Fifth Ward? Had there been vacant houses in 2000 that were occupied in 2010? Were houses that had been single family in 2000 housing multiple families in 2010? Were houses owned by empty nesters in 2000 home to young families with children in 2010?

Mendolia's response to my inquiry was unexpected. He told me that Crosswinds is not in the Fifth Ward. It is in the Fourth Ward. The map on the Board of Elections website--the same map provided at polling sites in Hudson to help people identify the ward in which they should be voting--indicates that Crosswinds is in the Fifth Ward, but an inquiry to the Board of Elections confirmed that the residents of Crosswinds vote in the Fourth Ward. So the question becomes, if Crosswinds, with its seventy units, which opened in 2008, is in the Fourth Ward, why didn't the Fourth Ward see an increase in its population from 2000 to 2010 and in the weighted vote of its aldermen?

The answer came from Steve Dunn, who has been studying the census data and who recently reported that the population figures for 15 North Front Street and 15 South Front Street (the two parts of Hudson Terrace) had been switched, and as a consequence the weighted vote calculations for the First Ward and the Second Ward were incorrect. According to Dunn, the residents of Crosswinds, although they vote in the Fourth Ward, were counted in the population of the Fifth Ward, thus erroneously inflating the population of the Fifth Ward and increasing the weighted vote of aldermen for whom they did not vote.

At tonight's Common Council meeting, Mendolia plans to present a letter to City officials describing the situation and its implications in greater detail.

1 comment:

  1. These errors in counting and assignments are just errors. The elemental flaw is that the weighted system violates the one person one vote principle and is anti-democratic. We need to redraw the wards for equal population. Talking about bookkeeping is a distraction. Mark Orton