County Legislature approves weighted voting

League of Women Voters, minority leaders and residents voice opposition

County Legislature Democrats approved the move to a weighted voting system despite an outcry from residents.

The Schenectady County Legislature voted 13-2 in favor of the weighted voting system on Tuesday, May 10, with Republicans Robert Farley and James Buhrmaster casting the dissenting votes. The local law will be effective starting Jan. 1 of next year, which is meant to balance and equally represent the four districts after results from the 2010 census. Under the approved system District 1 legislators cast 1.0572 votes each, District 2 legislators cast 1.0799 votes each, District 3 legislators cast 0.9939 votes and each District 4 vote equals 0.9048. This gives the both city districts more voting power.

This is an evolutionary procedure and it isn't really going to have a big impact on our voting here, but it does set up a more equitable system, said Legislator Karen Johnson, D-Schenectady.

The weighted system won't affect voting on normal resolutions too much, but primarily will have an impact on resolutions requiring super majority approval, such as when approving bonding and capital improvement projects, said Legislator Philip Fields, D-Schenectady. The two key elements to this plan for the Democrat majority was it didn't add anymore more legislators and didn't require redrawing district lines, which haven't been changed they were formed in 1965.

"If we start messing with the lines of districts it can be messed with in a way that is full of mischief and I just don't think we really want to do that," said Johnson. "It seems to me this is a simple system to deal with the situation we are in and common sense says for the time being this is not a bad way to go and has some very positive aspects."

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