Friday, March 25, 2005

Local: More Republican Election Hijinks In Irvington

You guys aren't going to believe this one: A Republican is in a tight race -- this time for Mayor of Irvington, NY -- and the primary strategy being employed is to not count votes.

Real shocker, isn't it?

More accurately, I should say that Republican Dennis Flood is interested in suppressing a vote since this is all coming down to a single ballot.

To recap, Flood and Democratic challenger Erin Malloy are tied at 847 votes apiece, according to a count supervised by Irvington village clerk Lawrence Schopfer. A Westchester County Board of Elections recount on Friday gave Malloy a one-vote lead, but Schopfer opened one of two unsealed absentee ballots on Friday night, revealing another vote for Flood.

Malloy had no problem whatsoever with opening this ballot. "I was ahead. I had everything to lose and nothing to gain," said Malloy, the former county chairwoman of the League of Women Voters. "I have a long, long proven history of supporting voters' rights."

The second ballot is the big one in question. At first, the village clerk believed that the vote had been cast by an unregistered voter because the voter rolls had no name exactly matching the name of the person who had voted on that ballot. Several people saw the name and address on the second ballot, and by Monday morning, the woman was calling village officials with proof of her registration and a possible explanation for the confusion: her use of two different names, Susan L. Brenner-Morton and Susan Morton.

Susan Morton is understandably upset over the Republican attempt to disenfranchise her. The "irregularity" being cited by Flood's camp is clearly just a case of married name versus maiden name and not a case of an illegitimate vote.

"I am furious that they haven't opened the ballot," Ms. Morton said. "I want my vote on record, and I want it counted. If they would have done a little more research this wouldn't have been a problem." She said she had voted for Ms. Malloy.

If the election is officially declared a tie, the Board of Trustees would be required by law to choose a winner by lot, perhaps by drawing straws or flipping a coin.

Mayor Flood has asked the State Supreme Court to intervene and to mandate a new election, versus the opening of the single ballot. The case is in the Supreme Court today.

Again, I ask why it is that whenever there is a close election, the dominant Republican strategy is always to keep votes from being counted? Whether it is a contest for the U.S. presidency, a mayoral race or local dogcatcher, you can bet the Democrat will favor all votes being counted and the Republican will always try to invoke the Jim Crow days in one form or another.

One thing is clear. Regardless of how this case turns out, Erin Malloy has run a fine race against an entrenched Republican and has won this election.

Like Republican Nick Spano in a recent, similarly-contested New York State Senate election, Dennis Flood has just received his political two-minute warning. Now, or next election, Mr. Flood, you're gone.