The runoff election for New York City public advocate on October 1st drew only about 6.5 percent of registered Democrats citywide. The election cost about $13 million. This works out to about $70 for every vote cast.
When I went to vote at my polling place in Bayside, there were five people at the table, with four interpreters sitting in an adjacent lobby, plus one person directing voters to the table site. Ten people for one election district. Repeat that similar scenario in all five boroughs and one can see how the cost added up for this low-turnout election.
This system needs to be overhauled. The process for voting in municipal elections must be re-examined and modified to cut costs. I do not blame the people employed to work at the polls on Election Day for this. They were just trying to do their job.
There are other ways of handling the process, including having instant runoffs on Primary Day, thus avoiding the need for a separate runoff election. Many people feel that there should be no runoffs at all. It is not the fault of the candidates if many people seek a particular office, making it harder for any individual candidate to rack up a large plurality of the votes.
That $13 million spent on this runoff election could have been used to hire more teachers, or to sustain afterschool programs for children or to give better services to our senior citizens or to plant and care for additional trees to enhance our communities. The list goes on and on.
As citizens, we need to insist that wasteful spending be curbed and that well-thought-out strategies for voting procedures be put into place in order that all voters have their voices heard in the most effective way.