Friday, September 18, 2015

Democratic Primary: It Isn't Over Until It's Over

The absentee and affidavit ballots were counted this morning at the Board of Elections, and Gossips was there to witness the proceedings. 

In the First Ward, where things seemed pretty much decided on primary day, with Rick Rector getting 77 votes, Michael O'Hara 40, and Nick Haddad 33, the six absentee ballots counted today didn't alter the outcome. All six voters who voted absentee voted for Rector; two also voted for O'Hara, and two for Haddad. Gossips' final, albeit unofficial tally in the First Ward is: Rector 83; O'Hara 42; Haddad 35.

In the Fourth Ward, Rich Volo and Lauren Scalera ended last Thursday only one vote apart. What remained to be counted were two affidavit ballots, cast by people who had moved within the city and not changed their voter registration in time, and twenty-one absentee ballots. Because of a challenge, the affidavit ballots were set aside, and this morning, Victor Mendolia, on behalf of candidate Volo, challenged eleven of the absentee ballots. One was challenged because the voter's signature on the application for the absentee ballot did not match the signature on record; the other ten were challenged because the voters, all residents of the Firemen's Home, did not, according to the ward boundaries defined in the city charter, reside in the Fourth Ward. 

It will remembered that when the discrepancies between the ward boundaries as defined in the city charter and the boundaries used in practice were discovered, the Common Council requested that the Board of Elections amend their boundaries to reflect the charter. Both commissioners--Virginia Martin for the Democrats and Jason Nastke for the Republicans--must agree to do this for it to happen, and Nastke refused. The Council passed a resolution to file an Article 78 lawsuit against the county to force Nastke to comply, but Mayor William Hallenbeck vetoed the resolution. Council support for the resolution eroded, and there were not enough votes to override the mayor's veto.

Because of the challenges, the two affidavit ballots and eleven of the absentee ballots were set aside. When the ten ballots that remained were opened and counted, Scalera picked up eight votes, Volo two, and Alexis Keith, the incumbent who was the front runner on primary night, added seven. The unofficial count in the Fourth Ward is at this point: Keith 59; Scalera 44; Volo 39.

Rick Scalera observing the count at the Board of Elections this morning


  1. If the 4th Ward has to wait for representation, candidates who deserve a fair shake mustn't become scapegoats. Instead, full blame to those who knowingly set the eventuality in motion:

    1. Mr. Nastke's evident obstructionism;

    2. Mayor Hallenbeck's predilection for partisan gimmicks over solutions;

    3. The Common Council's collective lack of resolve and generally poor judgement.

    In the meantime, congratulations to Rick and Michael. The 1st Ward rocks! as usual.

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    1. I was there watching the action, preparing to take further action depending on the vote count. The single most disturbing thing, was with respect to a challenged Greenport absentee ballot, where there was an actual police report that the voter was in the county on election day, thereby rendering that ballot illegal pursuant to NY Election Law. Mr. Nastke said everybody gets on vote, implying that the law was a mere distraction from that imperative - except when he challenged two absentee ballots thought to be not for the candidate of his liking, because he wanted to verify the alleged new addresses. So there, the law seemed to matter to him. So application of the law seems to turn on which team is helped or hurt in Mr. Nastke's world. I can think of no other explanation. If Mr. Nastke has one, he should proffer it. Needless to say, Columbia County and Hudson have an "interesting" political culture when it comes to willingness to use certain means to achieve certain ends, one that I am not really used to as a relative newbie to the area. And I don't like it!

    2. Oh well, my errata corrections did not take. Everybody gets "one" vote (not "on" vote), Mr. Nastke said, except when it came to two affidavit ballots - from the 4th ward - not absentee ballots, which Mr. Nastke did challenge, pending his personal investigation of the claim that the voters had moved into the 4th ward

  3. The State of New York is historically very shady.

    Forever railing against the State's incorrigible political culture, Theodore Roosevelt said something at Saratoga in 1910 that rings true for Hudson today:

    "Boss rule is the negation of democracy."

    Of course the quotation doesn't fit the present story if the outcome wasn't the result of a concerted effort (yeah, right!), but I'm almost more interested in why the Common Council suddenly lost its resolve. What game were the Aldermen playing?

    The question merits scrutiny: why did the Common Council throw in the towel?

    By now it's become customary for our City legislature - our representatives! - to be just as complicit in the negation of democracy. That's how screwed up Hudson is.

  4. To be specific, not having the votes for a veto-override shouldn't have prevented President Moore, or some interested Aldermen, from sponsoring and then conducting an override vote anyway. Why would they just give up?

    Is there a parliamentary rule which forbids such a vote? I doubt it. And why must the public beg for an explanation?

    For Mr. Volo, deciding on a court challenge by gauging his ultimate electoral success is perfectly reasonable, and even advisable.

    But for any other party who can bring a challenge - and presumably the Democratic Committee can - shouldn't they want to do the right thing, the principled thing, and not just the advantageous thing?

    This is an amazing, scandalous story.