Falling so close to Election Day, Halloween offers the perfect time for a political scare.
For voters in the dark, here are five basic fright-night features of which to beware:
Spirits and ghosts of elections past rise to haunt the airwaves with endorsements.
Former President Bill Clinton appeared Thursday, as he has before, in support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani Thursday endorsed fellow Republican Bruce Blakeman for Congress. Former Gov. George Pataki tweeted this week about his close associate, John Cahill, who's running for attorney general.
Some of these political apparitions from the 1990s had costume masks modeled after them many Halloweens ago. Their presence may impress some citizens -- or may prove as harmless as Casper to their endorsees' opponents.
Reading the language of some ballot propositions offers a one-way trip deep into the moonless woods.
For example, try figuring out for sure if State Proposition 1 really would advance New York toward a fairer redistricting process or if, as critics say, the referendum falls short. Plowing through its full 4,000-plus words, even hardy souls might flee screaming.
Trick-or-treaters have nothing on phone canvassers, robocallers or fundraising emailers.
They'll keep trying to reach you until you want to huddle behind the door and pretend nobody's home.
But maybe these campaign callers should warrant sympathy rather than fear. As with trick-or-treating, that's how business is done. And unlike trick-or-treating, it isn't optional. In the light of day, campaigns need money and candidates need voters to show up at the polls.
Television and radio commercials may hint of doom if you vote the "wrong" way.
In fact, "scary" Halloween ads have become so campy that this season, Pennsylvania's Republican Gov. Tom Corbett attacked his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf with something garishly funny.
A chainsaw-wielding man faces the camera, removes a mask from his face, and says: "You think this is scary? Have you seen Tom Wolf's plan for raising the state income tax? . . . His higher taxes are so frightening, it even scares people who scare people for a living."
Scare efforts can run both ways between Democrats and Republicans. Senate Democrats have a commercial in Kentucky stating Republican leader Mitch McConnell "voted to gamble [Social Security] trust fund money in the stock market" where "40 percent of it could have been lost" in the 2008 market crash. McConnell blasts the attack as inaccurate.
General-election turnout, if it resembles turnout for the September primary, could give polling places the feel of abandoned cemeteries.
Fewer than one in 10 Democrats enrolled statewide took part in that party's Sept. 9 primary for governor. Low turnout, and other forms of nonparticipation, always threaten to be the biggest nightmare for a public that decides, in theory, who runs government.