I voted yesterday. I did my duty. I did it thoughtfully and conscientiously, and unlike most people, I did it with utter disregard for tribal left-right bullshit, and voted for candidates, not political affiliations. Because of this, I had to do a lot of writing…
In the last election, the party I am registered with once again overcame more than a century of political shenanigans designed to keep any real party other than Democrats or Republicans off the ballot, and succeeded in qualifying for ballot access. This came at a significant cost. Due to rules implemented by the Democrats and Republicans, the only way to be on the ballot in New York was for your party’s candidate for governor to garner tens of thousands of votes in an election despite not initially having ballot access. This meant spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on petition-signing campaigns to force a gubernatorial candidate’s name onto the ballot despite not having regular ballot access, and then having almost nothing left for actual campaigning.
Despite these challenges, my party and several other minor parties (independent ones, not the ones controlled by the Democrats or Republicans as facades to funnel more money into their coffers, they always get on the ballot by simply listing their gubernatorial candidate as the one run by their patron party) managed to gain enough votes to guarantee a place on the next ballot. And that’s where the chicanery started.
The Democrats and Republicans in our state government, finding the possibility of our citizens having a chance to vote for candidates that actually represented their ideals and interests to some degree to be a threat, shortly thereafter increased the number of votes needed to remain on the ballot by a factor of four. They also made this change retroactive, literally stealing properly earned ballot access from parties representing nearly a million New Yorkers. Then, fearing that even these outrageous measures might still leave their power monopoly open to threat from New York voters, they did themselves one better.
They mandated that in order to get a candidate without ballot access on the ballot, the petitioning “season” in which a candidate would be required to gather all of the tens of thousands of signatures (Specifically 45,000, with at least 500 or 5% of enrolled voters from each of one-half of the state’s congressional districts) would be reduced to six weeks, so short a time that literally hundreds of workers would have to be hired to work full time during the period in question to gain enough votes with enough coverage, at nearly triple the cost compared to previous requirements!
Needless to say, most of the minor parties who gained ballot access in the last election did not manage to get their candidates on the ballot through this year, so we were all forced to write in names. And that’s where my personal interaction with the shenanigans comes in.
When I went into the booth to begin voting, the first thing I noticed was that the thick-tipped markers provided for the purpose were far too fat for legible writing, especially in the tiny fields provided for write-in candidates (this being the 21st century, it had not occurred to me to bring my own pen). Nevertheless, I found a way to mash the squashy tip on two sides to make a point, and managed to write in my candidates names barely readably and mostly inside the lines of the provided boxes.
Then it was time to insert my “scantron” ballot into the counting machine. It was immediately and repeatedly rejected. To their credit, the elections workers did their best to get the job done, advising me to flip and twist the ballot all possible ways, trying again with each orientation, and finally providing an envelope for me to insert my ballot into after folding it in half. I was then told that the envelope would only be opened if there were sufficient similarly enveloped or mail-in ballots that their votes might change the outcome of a race or ballot initiative!
I assume this occurred with rather a lot of minor party voters yesterday. I also know that in New York, there are rarely races that are remotely close. These two facts bring me to the realization that whether by shenanigans or mechanical failure, it is nigh impossible that most minor party voters’ written in votes will even be counted, ensuring that we have no chance of getting enough votes to get our parties on the ballot. I’m sure it was just mechanical failure, right? RIGHT???
I’m utterly disgusted, but I can’t remotely say I’m surprised. The duopoly wins again. Two wings of the same bird, flapping us ever onward toward socioeconomic catastrophe.
Tell me again how our government represents “the will of the people”?