Morning Read: ‘Lunatics and Lightweights’

Due to Nor’Easter, the Rockaway is without electricity again. (Photo: Getty)

Councilman Jimmy Vacca is reportedly interested in a campaign for Bronx borough president in 2013, should the current occupant of the office, Ruben Diaz Jr., leave his post to run for a citywide position.

Senator-elect Simcha Felder continues to be coy about what party he will caucus with in Albany. On the front page of Hamodia, under the headline, “Felder: My Loyalty Is to My Constituents,” Mr. Felder “reiterated his firm commitment to continue to consult daas Torah, and he stressed that he was beholden to his constituents and not any political party.” As a kicker for the article, Assemblyman Dov Hikind quipped Mr. Felder’s election “really increases the chances of having a minyan for Mincha on a regular basis when the legislature is in session.”

“Is this the moment to say ‘I told you so,'” Senator Mike Gianaris jested on Capital Tonight about his party being elected to the majority of the State Senate when few gave them a chance. Of course, that depends on all of the chamber’s registered Democrats coming to a leadership consensus, which is not guaranteed. Of Mr. Felder, Mr. Gianaris posited, “I think Senator-elect Felder has made it clear that his priority is his community, and I think he has said that, were the Democrats to end up electing a majority of members on Election Day, that he would end up conferencing with us. I would argue that we’ve achieved that goal.”

“It is not extinct, but it is comatose,” Baruch Colleges’ Doug Muzzio said about the New York State GOP’s overall situation. “They’ve had lunatics and lightweights.”

Thanks to Election Day chaos this year, which extended far beyond the damage of hurricane and led to many anecdotes of voters giving up in frustration, there is a new push to reform the city’s Board of Elections. “There are these really well-intentioned people who are chosen because of who they know, not what they do, and they can’t run an election in the best of circumstances,” Common Cause’s Susan Lerner said. “In the worst of circumstances, they are just hopelessly overmatched.”

Last night’s Inside City Hall featured an interesting discussion between de facto BOE spokesman J.C. Polanco and host Errol Louis:

Louis: I live in an area that was not affected in any way, shape or form by the storm. I have been voting in New York for 32 years. Yesterday was by far, by far, the worst I’ve ever seen. I had to wait for 2 hours in order to vote.

Polanco: And that’s a story that I hear countless times today, of voters having to wait on line for hours. I have to tell you, Errol,  these new machines require there to be a longer process, it just does. There’s always going to be–

Louis: Let me disagree with you. The bottleneck at my polling site, and I’m sure this was repeated all over the city, there were maybe a thousand people on line, actually a hundred people in line, just for my election district. And we had to go to one person, one untrained senior citizen leafing through a book, trying to alphabetize last names. Why not more books? Why not more inspectors?

Polanco: That’s a great question Errol. The reason why we can not have more books is there would be no quality control. If we have more than one book, Errol, you can vote once, you can vote again. New York doesn’t have voter I.D.’s. The only way we can prevent fraud is by having one book….Instead of finger pointing, instead of [politicians] sending that next press release attacking the Board of Elections for a terrible condition that affected the entire city, and the tragedy that it has been. Why don’t you think about ways to modernize the system? Think about them, instead of just pointing fingers.

Louis: Early vote would be a start. Some professional people who have maybe passed some version of a test, before being put ahead of a line–

Polanco: They’ve been trained.

Louis: Training is not a test!

Polanco: And then they pass their test!

Louis: Look, I’ve done this. I’ve rounded up volunteers to work at the Board of Elections. You know, and I know, there’s no test.

Polanco: Errol, there is!

Louis: That says if you can’t find somebody’s name in less than 30 seconds, you don’t get to sit there and hold up a line for four hours. 

Polanco: Well, I’ll have to see, that’s a question on the test. But there is a test and there is training. There is training for each one of our poll workers.

Morning Read: ‘Lunatics and Lightweights’