It’s 6 pm. You just got home. And ... are tired.
But, you forgot to vote. You have been reading up on the competing candidates and have a preference. You think your vote doesn’t count. Think again.
On March 15, 2005 an election was held for mayor of Irvington (in the town of Greenburgh). The results were not decided until Oct. 27, 2005. Dennis Flood, the incumbent mayor was running against Erin Malloy, the Democratic candidate. Both candidates received 847 votes. How did the mayor get selected? By “lots.”
The count that took place on election night gave Flood a one-vote lead. On March 18, the Westchester County Board of Elections recounted the votes, giving Malloy a one-vote lead. Turning to two unopened absentee ballots, the board found that one was for Flood, resulting in a tie.
The other absentee ballot was not opened as the name on the envelope did not match any names on the voter-registration list. Susan B. Morton, who had registered to vote as Susan Brenner Morton, stepped forward three days later and demanded that her vote for Malloy be counted. For several months afterward, various suits, motions, and appeals were filed in state courts.
On Oct. 20, the Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court, denied requests by Malloy and Morton, leaving the election in a tie. To comply with state law, the village had to use random lots to decide the winner. State law does not specify the method of drawing lots, so the village opted to draw quarters from a bag.
Eight quarters were used. Four had a bald eagle on the back and represented Malloy. Flood was represented by four quarters with the Statue of Liberty on the back.
Village Trustee/Deputy Mayor Richard Livingston, a Republican, drew a quarter from the bag. It was handed to Village Clerk Lawrence Schopfer, who declared Flood to be the winner. Flood was then sworn in for his sixth two-year term as mayor of Irvington You have three hours left to vote. You could be the kingmaker. Your vote could make a difference. Please vote.
Paul Feiner is Greenburgh town supervisor.
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