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A Voting Controversy Nobody Talks About

September 14, 2010

In the Grand Old Party, 53 percent of the vote comes from upstate, and 47 percent from downstate. 

So, therefore, all other things being equal, a candidate who is strong upstate (presumably an upstater) would have an advantage over a candidate with strong downstate support (presumably the downstater.) 

Right?

 Well, no. 

But why? It’s because the polls are open in the upstate region from noon to 9 pm. In the downstate region, it’s 6 am to 9 pm. The polls are open an extra six hours downstate. 

You ask: Is this fair? 

No. It’s a per se violation of the voting rights act, but it’s the way it is. 

You ask: How could this be? 

It’s a historical thing. Back in the day, the upstate political bosses really didn’t have primaries and didn’t want to pay the extra cost of keeping polling places open. It’s never changed. It’s never been modernized. 

You ask: What impact could it have this year? 

A big one. Carl Paladino is strong upstate and Rick Lazio is strong downstate. If this race is particularly close, if, for example, if Lazio prevails by a very narrow margin, we’ll all have to wonder whether the outcome would have been different if the polls were open an extra six hours upstate.

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