The Never Boring Elections That Take Place Upstate
by Anthony Stasi
May 31, 2011 | 7526 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sometimes when New York Republicans get into an ideological fight over a New York election, it seems like they are competing for a piece of a pie that was already eaten years ago.

The head-to-head fighting between Republicans cost them a seat in the 26th Congressional District last week, just as it did in the 23rd District in 2009. Many analysts say that this is a precursor to the backlash that the GOP will get for its approach to Medicare, which is introduced as a way to balance the budget, but that might not be true.

Medicare is a real enough issue to make a difference in a few elections in 2012, but it might not cause the sea change for which Democrats are hoping. Remember that there were a few special elections leading up to the 2010 election cycle that did not bode well for the Republicans, and that too was seen as a potential sign of GOP vulnerability.

But the Republicans proved not very vulnerable. In fact, it was the fight in the 23rd District, which was similar to this one, on which some analysts pinned their national hopes. November 2010, however, still proved to be a big Republican year.

Had there not been three candidates in this race, Republican Jane Corwin would have won this seat. This does not mean that the Medicare issue is not big. Jack Davis, the Tea Party Candidate, siphoned off nine percent of the vote that almost certainly would have gone to Corwin.

None of this means that Davis is at fault because he successfully balloted his way into the race, and that is not always easy to do. This is where third parties need to be comfortable with such results, however. If third parties are okay with risking this seat going to the most liberal candidate in the race, then making this a three-way race is their prerogative. Medicare would still have been an issue if Davis was not in the race, but it would have been very close (and Corwin would have won).

When these elections take place, there are upsets at times. This is why we love politics; we never really know what will happen. The New York State Republican Party made some gains in 2010, but revitalizing its presence in upstate New York needs to be job one right now. This is the second time in as many years that this has happened.

Minnesota Nice

Having never been to Minnesota, I have always been impressed with what is known as ‘Minnesota nice,’ the general nice way that Minnesotans treat people. Writing a chapter of a book that focuses on voting in the Midwest during the end of the 19th century, the latest "voter identification bill" in Minnesota immediately caught my interest.

Republicans in the state legislature sent a bill to the Democratic Governor Mark Dayton that would require voters in Minnesota to show picture identification at the voting booth. The governor vetoed the bill despite the measure polling at 80 percent among Minnesotans.

At first glance, it does make sense to make identification a requirement in order to vote. People get asked for identification when they order drinks, is voting not as important? The governor offered a couple of reasons for his veto, and one reason makes sense.

If you require a new system or a change in the current system, do local governments have to foot the bill? Or is it a funded mandate? In this case, the governor’s office suggested that this would be an added $23 million cost to local governments. It might still be worth it, but a veto is not bad if this is the reason, especially considering the economic climate.

The governor’s other reason for his veto was that there was no evidence of voter fraud in Minnesota thus far, and so there was no need for it. This might be one of those instances where you want your government to think ahead and not wait for voter fraud to become an issue. Minnesota, like many other states, has had their share of close elections, and this might be a way to avoid a problem.

More and more states are becoming swing states in national elections. Maybe Minnesota does not need this right now, but I would argue that Ohio could use a law like this. There have also been constitutional questions about such legislation, but there seems to be a good argument that this can very easily be considered constitutional.

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