Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mah Rabu endorsements: local

We've made our endorsements for elections nationwide. I'll miss all the madness on Election Day, since I'll be in the Holy Land for my great-great-grandfather's 50th yahrtzeit. So I'll be voting absentee. Note to NYC voters who will be away on Election Day: you don't need to request an absentee ballot by mail; you can vote absentee in person at the Board of Elections office in your borough.

(Also, I can't type "election" without first typing "electron" by mistake. It's an occupational hazard.)

Here is the list of candidates for NYC. Apparently the Rent Is Too Damn High Party has been bowdlerized to Rent Is Too High. See their website for more details.

I plan to vote for:
  • Governor / Lieutenant Governor: Eliot Spitzer / David A Paterson (Working Families)
  • State Comptroller: Alan G Hevesi (Working Families)
  • Attorney General: Andrew M Cuomo (Working Families)
  • United States Senator: Hillary Rodham Clinton (Working Families)
  • Representative in Congress (15th District): Charles B Rangel (Working Families)
  • State Senate (31st District): Eric Schneiderman (Working Families)
  • Member of the Assembly (67th District): Linda B Rosenthal (Working Families)
Then there are the judges. WTF. Here in Manhattan, we're electing two "justices" to the "Supreme Court" (which isn't actually the highest court in the state - that's the Court of Appeals - but is just a regular trial court, albeit higher than the NYC Civil and Criminal Courts, and county/city/town/village courts elsewhere in the state) and one judge to the Civil Court. There are two candidates for the two Supreme Court seats, each of which is nominated by both the Democratic and Republican parties. There is one candidate for Civil Court, running as a Democrat. There were no primaries for any of these seats.

This is not democracy. And maybe democratic elections aren't the best way to pick judges anyway; maybe it would make sense to have them appointed and confirmed as they are in the federal judiciary. But the status quo is much worse, because it creates the illusion of democracy without any of the substance. Judicial candidates are chosen by party bosses, with no accountability to the voters. (If judges were appointed, they would at least be chosen by elected officials.)

I refuse to participate in this sham, so I plan to cast a write-in vote in protest. Any suggestions on whom I should write in? Desh may have inspired me to write in my own name, but I don't think I'm qualified for the position of judge (though perhaps more qualified than these guys).


  1. Qualifications for NY judges:

    Supreme court: state resident; state practice > 10 yrs; minimum age of 18; mandatory retirement age of 70

    County court: state resident; county resident; state practice > 5 yrs; minimum age of 18; mandatory retirement age of 70

    So have you been practicing your judicial abilities for 5 years? (I think teaching counts.) If so, write yourself in!

  2. Well, drat. NYC civil court (which is for some reason different from a county court outside NYC) also requires 10 years. What counts as "practice"? Do I know any lawyers?

  3. Actually, coming to my senses, that's probably a good thing. Given that judges are chosen in smoke-filled rooms, it's good that the law places some constraints on this process and requires qualifications. (Supreme Court justices have no such requirements, and don't even have to be US citizens or over 18, but they do have to face Senate confirmation.) But that means I won't write myself in. Because now that would be throwing my vote away.

  4. FWIW, two notes from a lawyer (who happened to find this post through an apparently unrelated link)...

    The "practice" requirements mean being admitted to the New York bar. It doesn't matter if you've actually been representing clients, or have been a judge.(See, e.g. N.Y. Judiciary Law sec. 140-a.)

    And the travesty that is the judicial selection system in New York (specifically, selection of nominees by party convention) has been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. See here for details. So hopefully by the next cycle, the Legislature will have come up with a better system...