Saturday, July 10, 2010

Debate About the Debate About NYC Nonpartisan Elections and the Charter Revision Commission

Probably in anticipation of the NYC Charter Revision Commission's preliminary report that was issued yesterday (see below), the Wall Street Journal made a rather strong projection in an article on Thursday evening saying nonpartisan elections will "probably not be on the ballot" in the fall. 

There's been lots of chatter about how much discussion there needs to be about nonpartisan elections before it goes before the voters. (After all, the Commission is not deciding whether NYC will have nonpartisan elections. The Commission is deciding what issues the voters will have an opportunity to vote on.)

During the initial public hearings, there were many statements in favor of nonpartisans, particularly from youth. Increasingly, young people are becoming independent. In fact, nationally about 43% of Americans consider themselves to be independent. In NYC, a million registered independents are denied a vote in the decisive first round of voting. Fewer and fewer people are voting in that decisive round -- partisan primaries.

Citizens Union, the venerable government watchdog group, issued a report on Wednesday favoring nonpartisan elections (read the NY Times article here). On June 8, Californians voted - again - for open primaries in the form of Proposition 14. And ever since 2007, there's been a national hue and cry about independents being locked out of elections. It's independents who determine elections. 

Nonpartisan elections and open primaries is practically supper table talk all across America.

So, as we continue to debate nonpartisan elections, the Commission should give NYC voters a chance to vote on it. To not do so simply perpetuates an undemocratic exclusionary and corrupt partisan system that is increasingly dangerous.


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