Villages at helm of low-key elections

Uncontested races the norm locally, some use paper ballots to keep costs down

— Local village elections are low-key affairs, taking place outside the typical election cycle and with uncontested seats common. One county official even speculated that unless people have a horse in the race, they probably don’t even know it’s happening.

“There is not a lot of fanfare with (village) elections. Unless you are engaged in that process, they are low-key affairs,” said Matthew Clyne, Democratic commissioner of the county Board of Elections. “People generally aren’t aware of it unless they know people are running or they are involved with getting someone placed on the ballot.”

Locally this month, there are elections in both the Village of Colonie and Voorheesville, with only the Colonie race seeing a contest. There is also a contested race in the Village of Ravena.

Most village elections, however, don’t inspire the same political discourse of town, county or state races, and unlike town races, the Albany County Board of Elections doesn’t get involved unless local officials request help or there is a legal issue. The county Board of Elections only has a record of recent village election results if it used electronic machines the county supplied.

Clyne said the village clerk will usually supervise local elections, and the county only provides equipment if requested.

“They are the most parochial of all the jurisdictions. They pretty much run their own show,” Clyne said. “In many cases they have their own parties … and it is a very local operation, and because it is not a high volume situation, they didn’t have to resort to the Board until just recently.”

Elections this March in the Village of Voorheesville aren’t much of a change from its electoral trends. The incumbents — Mayor Robert Conway, Trustee Richard Berger and Trustee John Stevens — are facing no challengers. In fact, the village hasn’t had a contested election since 1994, with the incumbent mayor facing one challenger.

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