Spin Cycle

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Guv's aides insist executive order reflects earlier statements

Some political operatives — Democratic, specifically — are expressing confoundment at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Monday night that displaced Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester and New York City voters may cast affidavit ballots at polling stations outside their home districts.

Cuomo and his aides have been clear all along in their public statements that you won’t be able to vote out-of-district in down-ballot races. But, as explained earlier by his secretary, Larry Schwartz, it depends which out-of-district station you sign and submit your affidavit ballot.

He gives the example of a Southampton resident who would ordinarily go to the polls and have on the ballot the presidency, U.S. Senate, the representative from the 1st Congressional district, and, say, the state seats occupied currently by Sen. Kenneth LaValle and Assemb. Fred Thiele.

Say that person is staying for now in Setauket and can get to a polling booth there. He could still vote in the Congressional race — Tim Bishop or Randy Altschuler — because Setauket is in the 1st C.D., but not in the Thiele or LaValle races because the senate and assembly districts are different, Schwartz says. That is, the voter won't see those races on his ballot and cannot write in the names of candidates for them.

But the wording of the executive order issued by Cuomo is not that expansive. Some folks thought it sounded inconsistent. Here’s what it says:

“...Voters who reside in the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester, or in New York City, may receive and complete an affidavit ballot at any polling place in New York State; and ... the voter’s vote will count for the office of president and United States senator and it will also count for any other candidate for office and district as well as any ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot in the voter’s home district.”

The Cuomo folks insist it is clear and consistent with what they’ve laid out verbally. In other words, they say, you’re supposed to read it as authorization to vote out of district in any race that appears on the ballot of the polling place they’re using that ALSO appears on ballots in the voter’s home district.

Question for readers who have gotten this far: Do you think this says what they say it says?

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