But when does low-key become apathy? And why bother with an elected leadership if the elections are pretty much a rubber stamp on the incumbents? The voter turnout is abysmally low in the uncontested races. The number of Voorheesville voters peaked at 118 in recent years, where the string of uncontested races stretch back until 1994. Even Democratic chairman of the Albany County Board of Elections Matt Clyne admitted that most people aren’t generally aware of villages elections unless they know someone on the ballot. Sure, those in power can say that people just aren’t seeking to unseat them. That may be true, and a lazy electorate shares the blame here, but it also makes us wonder if there’s a will and a way to wake up the electorate.
Furthermore, with the village clerk — an elected position — responsible for supervising the elections, there seems to be little incentive to make room for fresh blood unless one of the longtime officials decides to step down.
It’s time for those in village seats to use their position to encourage their constituency to seek their own roles in government and actively promote the election process by doing more than just posting notices at the requisite six locations. There are plenty of people who won’t respond, but there are probably a handful that will, having felt intimidated by a process that seemed entrenched and unwelcoming.
Maybe this can be done by making village elections more accountable by enlisting the Albany County Board of Elections’ help every time, not just when there is an issue. The record-keeping of current and past elections is spotty, at best, with most clerks unable to provide results from before their terms. That lack of oversight makes you wonder if anyone is taking these village elections seriously. We think it’s time they did.